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UK's Second Interconnector to France Reaches Full Capacity

image credit: National Grid
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The British National Grid's second electricity interconnector with France has just reached full capacity and is now able to transmit electricity between the two countries. IFA2, as the 149 mile cable is named, stretches across the sea-floor, between the market-town of Fareham, on the South Coast, near Portsmouth Harbor, and Caen in Normandy.

Wholesale power traders started buying capacity to transport power earlier this month. IFA2 is a joint venture between the UK's National Grid and French Transmission System Operator RTE which increases the amount of clean energy that can be shared between the two countries.

With a capacity of 1000-megawatts, the high voltage direct current (HVDC) power cable can provide enough energy to power one million British homes and is expected to meet 1.2% of Britain’s electricity demand.

By importing lower carbon electricity from France, it is estimated that the project will prevent 1.2 million tonnes (Mt) of CO2 from entering the atmosphere - equivalent to planting 50 million trees - in its first full year of operation.

Jon Butterworth, Managing Director of National Grid Ventures, said: “IFA2 is the latest feat of world-class engineering helping to transform and decarbonize the electricity systems of Britain and its European neighbors. We’re delighted to have been able to again work with our partners RTE to strengthen the connection between the French and British power grids. Together we are now able to help deliver cleaner, more secure, and more affordable energy to consumers at both ends of the cable. Our first interconnector together, IFA, has been successfully operating for more than 30 years. We look forward to working together with RTE over the next 30 years, to support the delivery of net zero targets to fight climate change across the UK and Europe.”

Since construction began in 2018, IFA2 has seen more than 1,000 engineers and specialists work a total of around 3.2 million working hours to date.

National Grid’s portfolio now has four operational interconnectors – two to France (IFA and IFA2), one to the Netherlands (BritNed) and one to Belgium (Nemo Link). Two further projects are under construction - Norway (North Sea Link, operational 2021) and Denmark (Viking Link, operational 2023). Two other interconnectors: Moyle, and EIRGRID link Northern Ireland and Eire respectively with the UK.

Interconnectors are very important in evening-out the flow of electricity in Europe, especially as more intermittent sources of renewable power are added to the power generation system across the continent. There are several projects in planning or under construction currently in the UK, including the ambitious North Sea Link (NSL) cable which, as its name suggests, will travel 450 miles under the North Sea to Norway, reaching depths of 2000 feet below the sea at its lowest point. Currently under construction, this 515 kV link will be the world's longest subsea connector, with a capacity of 1400 MW when finished this year. The offshore cable will be supplied by Prysmian. The cable will be manufactured at the Arco Felice factory in Naples, Italy, and it will be installed by the cable-laying vessel Giulio Verne.

By 2030, 90% of electricity imported via National Grid’s interconnectors will be from zero carbon sources. Between 2020 and 2030, the National Grid estimate that their interconnectors will prevent more than 100 million tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.

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