400kV HVDC interconnect from UK to Belgium opens

400kV HVDC interconnect from UK to Belgium opens

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

Ten years in development, the 400kV Nemo Link is the first interconnector between Belgium and the UK and will enable electricity to flow in both directions between the two countries. Following a test phase, Nemo Link will start supplying energy in Q1 2019.

“This marks the inauguration of the first interconnector between Belgium and the United Kingdom. This massive project is a first for Belgium, both technically and strategically. This new interconnector – along with the soon to be completed ALEGrO connection with Germany – will enable us to significantly boost our energy exchange capacity and to position our infrastructure at the very heart of a future integrated European electricity system,” said Chris Peeters, Chief Executive Officer of Elia.

“By connecting the UK and Belgian electricity markets, we will ensure customers have access to different sources of generation and lower priced electricity. This will mean that customers pay less for their energy,” said John Pettigrew, Chief Executive Officer of National Grid. “Over the next five years National Grid will be investing more than £2 billion in new interconnectors to Europe and our significant commitment is driven by the value that interconnectors like Nemo Link can bring to customers at both ends of the cable.

HVDC is ideal for this kind of project because the two grids are not synchronised and can help control the current flow more effectively. The 1000MW converter equipment is supplied by Siemens.

The 140km long cable, designed and built in Japan by J–Power Systems, a subsidiary of Sumitomo Electric Industries, uses XLPE (cross-linked polyethylene) as insulation material. It runs between the converter stations at Richborough in Kent and Herdersbrug in Belgium across the English Channel, so the route had to be carefully examined to avoid obstructions such as a the remnants of an  American Boeing B-17 bomber and explosive devices. Forty-six bombs were neutralised in order to guarantee the safety of the workforce, working closely with the governments and militaries of Belgium, the UK and France.

“This is the first time the state-of-the-art HVDC cable technology of Japan will be adopted in such an important European infrastructure project,” said Sadao Fukunaga, president of J-Power Systems. “Our long term experience of similar projects will help us to deliver NEMO LINK successfully and on time.”

Testing starts next week, including energy exchanges, to ensure that everything is working properly before entering service in Q1. Nemo Link is expected to see 1000 MW in electricity exchanges, equivalent to the capacity of a nuclear reactor.

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