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Britain’s interconnectivity with Europe set to rise sharply

Connectivity between the Great Britain (Scotland, Wales and England) power market and Europe is to more than double in the next three years, despite Brexit and other barriers, according to a new study conducted by European power market data analyst EnAppSys.

The study shows that installed interconnector capacity in Britain is set to rise to 10 GW by 2023, which is around 25% of average peak GB capacity, and could increase further to 20 GW in the next decade. The contribution to meet GB electricity loads from overseas is already significant – at the time of writing, some 3 GW of imports are on the system, with two-thirds of that coming from France.

Power markets, even for the British Isles, do not sit alone in isolation – Great Britain’s power market is already connected into Belgium, France, Northern Ireland, the Netherlands, and the Republic of Ireland, says EnAppSys. The 2 GW connection into France has been in place since 1986, while connections to Northern Ireland, the Netherlands and the Republic of Ireland have been in place since 2002, 2011 and 2012. More recently, in 2019, an interconnector was built to join Britain with Belgium.

Now as much as 16 GW of interconnectors could be in operation in the next ten years – connecting Britain with new markets including Norway, Denmark, Germany and perhaps even Iceland, adds the analyst. 

Director of EnAppSys Phil Hewitt said: ‘This growth in levels of interconnector capacity undoubtedly creates changes in the underlying market. This is particularly so since carbon costs within Britain are higher than those on the continent. For example, a power station in the Netherlands identical to one on British shores has lower generation costs as a result of the difference in carbon charging and industry charges. This means that British-based power stations are increasingly facing competition for volume and balancing revenue as traders move balancing power across interconnectors produced by stations in continental European markets.’ 

Until now, the impact of interconnectors has been moderated by the reasonably small levels of their transfer capacity, with 4 GW of capacity historically existing to and from continental Europe and 1 GW to/from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. However, interconnectors either built, in construction or at an advanced state of planning account for almost 20 GW of capacity.

The new IFA2 interconnector to France (1 GW) is planning to enter commercial operation before the new year, and the Eleclink interconnector through the channel tunnel in 2022 (1 GW). Links to Norway (1.4 GW) and Denmark (1.4 GW) will come online in the next two to three years. However, Brexit has already put 4.8 GW of the later-stage French interconnectors (FABLink, Aquind and GridLink) in a state of delay, as the French regulator waits for clarity on Brexit, says EnAppSys.

News Item details

Journal title: Energy World

Countries: UK -

Organisation: EnAppSys

Subjects: Interconnectors, Energy markets,

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