French power link to run through Channel tunnel

Philip Whiterow
Friday 27 May 2011 00:00
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Eurotunnel has unveiled plans to run an electricity link through the Channel Tunnel as part of efforts to bolster UK power supplies. The proposed interconnector cable with France will help to smooth supply volatility relating to offshore wind power, meaning that energy generated from places where the wind is blowing can be shared around.

The 500 megawatt cable will run in the existing service tunnel and connect at Sellindge in Kent on the UK side and the Les Mandarins substation near Coquelles in France.

In 2008, Eurotunnel had a fire in one of its tunnels but project leaders said yesterday there would be no risk to travellers because the cables will be 10cm wide and heavily insulated, and laying it in the service tunnel will make maintenance easier. The project, which could take two years, will cost an estimated €250m (£217m) with Eurotunnel owning 49 per cent and Star Capital, an infrastructure-focused fund manager, the remaining 51 per cent. The new link, to be called ElecLink, will not have a major impact on total UK power usage, which at peak times in winter is 60,000MW.

But concerns have been growing over the security of future UK electricity supplies because of an EU commitment to generate 20 per cent of energy from renewable sources by 2020.

Eight other interconnectors are planned between the UK and parts of Europe, which together could handle more than 6,000MW.

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