Posted Jul 22, 2022, 7:30 AM
This is good news for the energy transition underway on the Old Continent. This Thursday, the NeuConnect interconnection project, which should constitute the first submarine electrical link between the United Kingdom and Germany, announced that it had completed its financing plan.
“The financial closing of the NeuConnect project, worth 2.8 billion euros [2,4 milliards de livres sterling], has just been completed. This operation paves the way for the start of work on the first direct link between the British and German energy markets,” says NeuConnect, the company behind the project.
Reduce congestion related to wind turbines
Financed by the French Meridiam, the German Allianz Capital Partners, the Japanese electricity company Kansai Electric Power, but also by public funds contributed in particular by the European Investment Bank, the project must become “one of the largest interconnections in the world”, with a length of 725 km of cables passing under the English Channel and allowing the circulation of up to 1.4 gigawatts of electricity in both directions – equivalent to the needs of 1.5 million households .
In the short term, this project is of no help to Europe, which faces a very precarious energy situation, but it will be very valuable for accelerating the energy transition in the years to come. Aiming to enter service in 2028, this interconnection line should improve the resilience of the European network by facilitating the transit of wind energy produced abundantly in northern Germany – subject to congestion due to lack of sufficient transport infrastructure.
Across the Rhine, this project will complement those already implemented to remedy the lack of power lines to the south of the country, where the industrial heart of Germany is concentrated. In May 2021, Angela Merkel and Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg notably inaugurated a 623-kilometer XXL cable linking southern Norway and northern Germany, the NordLink project.
Initially developed in Europe with the opening of the single market in order to increase the security of supply in each country and to participate in the harmonization of prices, interconnections are now also essential to manage the intermittency of wind and solar production. .
Many cables to come
In France, many projects have emerged in recent years. A 2 GW link with Spain (Baixas-Santa Llogaia) was commissioned in 2015, as well as a 1 GW submarine cable with the United Kingdom in 2020 (IFA-2). In recent months, the cable in the Channel Tunnel ElecLink has also been put into service.
It’s only a beginning. In its forecast study for 2050, the French network operator RTE expects “a level of 39 GW of import capacity in France, against 13 GW today”.