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U.K.-France Power Link Makes Grid More Nimble for Wind Farms

Rachel Morison
·2 mins read

(Bloomberg) -- National Grid Plc has started the final testing phase for its second power link to France, adding much needed flexibility to the grid that’ll be dealing with a surge of new wind farms in the years to come.

Electricity on the 700 million-pound ($904 million) IFA2 cable will flow in both directions and, once fully operational, is expected to supply 1.2% of Britain’s power demand. It’s being developed with French grid operator Reseau de Transport Electricite SA.

Britain is embarking on a huge build out of offshore wind, quadrupling its capacity in the next 20 years. Interconnectors will be a key part of exporting this electricity to foreign markets. The cables will benefit both Britain and Europe, giving grid managers everywhere additional flexibility to respond to shocks on the system and to buy the cheapest power.

The U.K. currently has five operational undersea cables transporting power between France, Belgium, the Republic of Ireland, the Netherlands and Northern Ireland with a capacity of about five gigawatts.

Read more about how the U.K. plans to connect offshore wind here

Britain will save 1.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year by importing nuclear power from France, according to National Grid estimates.

“We know that progress toward net-zero can’t afford to falter and Britain needs to keep up the momentum in reducing harmful carbon emissions,” John Butterworth, chief executive officer of National Grid Ventures, the unit that develops interconnectors, said.

Commercial operations for the 1,000 megawatt cable won’t start until November, later than planned. Energy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng visited the project Thursday.

“Recent government commitments to the development of our offshore wind infrastructure show how the U.K. is a world leader in low-carbon energy generation and the IFA2 will allow us to share those benefits with our friends and neighbors in France,” Kwarteng said.

National Grid has two further projects under construction: a cable to Norway which will be completed in 2021, and one to Denmark that’s scheduled to go live in 2023.

(Updates with minister comment in penultimate paragraph.)

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