The opening of the 1GW Nemo Link interconnector with Belgium has pushed power imports into Great Britain to a new record high, according to the latest Electric Insights report from Drax.

The analysis conducted by researchers at Imperial College London shows a tenth of Britain’s electricity was imported from Europe over February and March.

Almost a quarter was fed through the Nemo Link interconnector. Lower power prices in Belgium, where carbon emissions are cheaper, meant the subsea cable was used to export power for just two and a half hours over the two months.

Share of Britain’s electricity imported each week

Source: Electric Insights, Imperial College London and Drax

With nuclear and gas generation supplying the majority of its electricity, the carbon intensity of power imported from Belgium is slightly lower than that of domestic generation – 183gCO2/kWh versus 227gCO2/kWh during 2017/18 – but much cleaner than imports from either the Netherlands or Ireland.

Nuclear and renewable generation supplies 90 per cent of electricity in France, making it Britain’s greenest interconnected neighbour.

Generation mix in neighbouring countries 

Source: Electric Insights, Imperial College London and Drax

Meanwhile, a report from ICIS has predicted power imports into the UK to triple between 2019 and 2025 due to the rising European carbon price and surplus renewable generation in the north of the continent. Domestic generation is expected to fall by 21 per cent over the period despite renewable output rising by 37 per cent.

The forecast assumes the UK creates its own emission trading system (ETS) linked to the EU ETS following Brexit and that the carbon price is the same on both sides of the English Channel.

Forecast for UK generation

Source: The European Carbon Market: The Impact of Higher Carbon Prices on Utilities and Industries, ICIS