UK National Grid and Elia, the Belgian electricity transmission system operator, signed last week a joint venture agreement to move ahead with the Nemo Link – the first electricity interconnector between the two countries.
When completed the interconnector will provide 1000 MW of capacity – enough to power half a million homes. The link will run 140 kilometres between Richborough on the Kent coast and Herdersbrug, near Zeebrugge with a combination of undersea and underground cables. Electricity will flow in either direction between the two countries.
Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey said:
“Better electricity links to our neighbours help to guarantee our energy security at the lowest possible cost to billpayers and means we can use renewable electricity more effectively, allowing excess generation to be exported. This new interconnector will increase the amount of capacity available through interconnectors by 25%.
“Nemo Link is not only an important interconnector in its own right, it also demonstrates that the new ‘cap and floor’ regime can help support new investment while protecting consumers.”
Steve Holliday, Chief Executive of National Grid said
“Interconnectors have an increasingly important role to play in making sure both countries have security of supply and in helping to lower wholesale prices for consumers. It’s a great achievement for the project to have reached this stage and I’m confident that everyone involved in the joint venture will work hard to deliver the interconnector by 2019”.
Francois Cornelis, Chief Executive of Elia said
“Building high-capacity lines, interconnecting grids and fostering mutual Member States support are of utmost importance, not only to help Belgium reaching adequacy between generation and demand but also to make the electricity market competition a reality in Europe”
Nemo Link will provide a third interconnector between UK and Europe, helping to further integrate the Europe-wide internal energy market. A 2000 MW link to France and 1000 MW link to the Netherlands are already in operation. Being at the crossroads between electricity markets in Western and Eastern Europe, the Belgian grid is currently able to import 3500 MW of capacity and plans an additional 1000MW interconnection with Germany.
Subject to finalising suitable deals, Nemo Link will be announcing contracts for the construction of the converter stations and cable laying. Engineering design work and site preparation should begin later in the year. It’s anticipated that Nemo Link will go into commercial operation in 2019.