Belgian operator Elia Group has announced that Nemo Link, the interconnector between the UK and Belgium, has now officially started operations.
Nemo Link, the high voltage direct current (HVDC) interconnector which is 140km long, stretches between Richborough Energy Park in Kent, the UK and Zeebrugge, Belgium. Each end of the interconnector is connected to the respective national grids. It is owned by a joint venture between Elia and the National Grid UK.
On 31 January, energy exchanges between the two countries have started, with an average of 773MW to be exchanged on the first day and a total amount of 18.56TWh to be transported for the whole day.
With Nemo Link in place, the first step in the integration of European power grid has begun. Elia and National Grid are making their infrastructure available to the market operators who will be the main players involved in electricity trading between Belgium and Great Britain.
Elia Group CEO Chris Peeters said: “Today, 31 January 2019, marks the culmination of a huge project resulting from excellent collaboration between Elia and National Grid. In energy terms, the interconnector will offer a better future for consumers in both countries and facilitate the transition towards a sustainable and affordable electricity system. It will also give us more ways of guaranteeing security of supply.
“The commissioning of the Nemo Link, combined with that of the ALEGrO connection, scheduled for next year, will significantly boost our energy exchange capacity and position our infrastructure at the heart of Europe’s future electricity system.”
National Grid stated that till now, more than 75% of capacity has been reserved by power traders, who need to buy capacity to transmit power back and forth between the two countries.
It is one of the first four interconnectors that collectively represent a total investment by National Grid of £2.1 billion. Others include the 1GW IFA2 project to France and 1.4GW North Sea Link to Norway. These two links are under construction and expected to be operational in 2020 and 2021 respectively.
Last November, National Grid gave financial approval to build the 1.4GW Viking Link, which will connect the UK and Denmark.
CEO John Pettigrew said: “We’re delighted that Nemo Link and the Richborough Connection are now both fully operational. They will play a key role in delivering cleaner energy to UK consumers, while also making supplies more secure and competitive.
“Interconnectors like Nemo Link are the perfect tool to move renewable energy from where it is produced to where it is needed most. By connecting the UK and Belgian electricity markets, we will also ensure customers have access to different sources of generation and lower-priced electricity. This will mean that customers pay less for their energy.