Cable manufacturer Prysmian Group secures €350m contract for IFA2 interconnector

Supply deals worth €620 million have been signed for the new IFA2 interconnector which will join the electricity networks of the UK and France. 

Cable manufacturer Prysmian Group has been awarded a €350 million (£299 million) contract to design, manufacture and install the 1GW link, which will run for 240 kilometres between Tourbe in Normandy and Chilling in Hampshire.

Meanwhile, technology firm ABB has secured a €270 million (£231 million) deal to supply two high-voltage direct current converter stations which will be located at either end of the main subsea cable.

“This is a prestigious project for Prysmian, and we are delighted to have been selected by two of our most important customers,” said Prysmian’s senior vice president for energy projects Massimo Battaini.

The project is a joint venture between National Grid and its French equivalent RTE, and is scheduled to be commissioned in 2020.

RTE has until the end of 2018 to make a final investment decision, which could be influenced by the Brexit vote last June. The company applied for approval in April 2016 on the understanding the UK would remain a member of the European Union.

Prysmian and National Grid are also working together on the 1.4GW North Sea Link interconnector between the UK and Norway.

The 740-kilometre project – originally branded the North Sea Network – will join Blyth in Northumberland on the UK side and Kvilldal in Rogaland on the Norwegian side. Once built, it will be longest interconnector anywhere in the world.

The NSL link will transfer power both ways, with surplus UK renewable generation exported to Norway to be stored like a battery by pumped hydro plants and then imported back to Britain at times of low generation.

IFA2 and NSL are among a number of projects in the UK that aim to enhance the ability of the power grid to absorb large volumes of intermittent renewable generation by linking it with other networks around Europe.

Jon Butterworth, director responsible for National Grid’s interconnector portfolio, said: “Interconnectors play an important role in today’s UK energy mix and will play an even more important role in the smarter energy system of tomorrow.

“The ability to import electricity from other markets makes supplies more secure and competitively priced, which is good for consumers on both sides of the interconnector.”

The National Infrastructure Commission, set up to advise the UK government on major long-term infrastructure decisions, last year recommended that a smart power system built around interconnection, storage and demand flexibility, could save consumers up to £8 billion per year by 2030.

This article first appeared on Utility Week’s sister title Network. 

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