Elia, the Belgian electricity transmission system operator, and National Grid will today sign 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.
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.
Marie-Christine Marghem, Belgian Minister for Energy, Environment and Sustainable development: “If, in terms of energy supply, a modern country must have sufficient production capacity to cover its demand and provide the necessary flexibility to the grid, it is no longer conceivable that these objectives are pursued by individual countries without taking into account the potential of neighbouring countries. Politically, economically and technically, interconnections are required. A European Union must be a union of systems. The project that our two transmission system operators (TSOs) have just launched is part of the Belgian energy vision and is in line with a European Energy Union, where the implementation of interconnectors is a prerequisite for the security of supply and the reinforcement of the competitiveness of Europe and Belgium in particular.”
Francois Cornélis, 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.”
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.”
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.