The ongoing negotiations regarding the UK’s 2019 exit from the European Union, are having no real impact on developments, with four new Interconnector links now under construction.
The Government wants to see all the current planned projects through to operation, the majority of which will not be completed until after the UK has left the EU in 2019. Business Secretary Greg Clark had indicated he was keen for the UK to remain in the EU’s Internal Energy Market, although the final result will depend on the Brexit negotiations taking place over the next 12 months.
Over the next three years, Interconnector capacity between the UK and Europe is expected to more than double to over 8GW, with four new links scheduled to come online by 2020. This will provide the British power market with access to greater supplies and improved flexibility in meeting peak demand. Tight surplus power margins triggered sharp spikes in Day-ahead power prices last winter, and the threat of cold, windless days will remain a problem for the UK going forward. The incentive for investment in increased interconnection for the UK is clear.
Currently, the UK operates four Interconnector links. Two are with mainland Europe via France and the Netherlands, and two are with Ireland. The total capacity across the projects is 4GW. A further 4.4GW of Interconnector capacity is under construction across four new projects.
Three new links are being developed with northern France, as well as a new cable with Belgium, all scheduled for completion by 2020. A further three additional Interconnectors with France are in the pipeline. A new 1.4GW FAB cable to Devon was granted planning approval earlier this year.
The 2GW Aquind Interconnector, planned for Portsmouth, received approval from energy regulator Ofgem in September 2017 and, alongside the 1.4GW GridLink Interconnector, it’s hoped both will be online by 2022.
A 1.4GW UK-Germany Interconnector, the first power link between the two countries, is also being planned at Isle of Grain.
The UK has early plans to tap into the Scandinavian energy market, hoping to take advantage of high levels of installed renewable capacity as well as hydropower reserves in the region. Two Interconnector links are in planning with Norway. These will run to Peterhead in Northeast Scotland and Blyth in northern England – both with a capacity of 1.4GW.
A further 1.4GW Viking Link is in planning that will connect the UK with Denmark. A Final Investment Decision on this project is due in spring 2018. Developer National Grid Viking Link Limited (NGVL) has explicitly stressed that the UK’s decision to leave the European Union “does not influence the plans to build and operate Viking Link between the UK and Denmark.”
An ambitious 1,000km IceLink Interconnector is also in planning and will connect Scotland with Iceland. However, the €3.5bn project is only at the concept stage and it could be at least 10 years until this link is operational.
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