Should simplify trade: Great Britain relies on “electricity motorway”

Should simplify trading
Great Britain relies on “electricity motorway”

In Great Britain, the price of electricity has so far been consistently higher than in Germany. In order to keep the price down, the country needs electricity from abroad. This is where Germany comes in.

With an “electricity highway” under water, Germany and Great Britain want to trade and exchange electricity more easily. The 720-kilometer “NeuConnect” subsea power cable is to connect Wilhelmshaven to the Hoo peninsula at the Thames estuary from 2026. The so-called interconnector can transport up to 1.4 gigawatts of electricity in both directions – that’s enough energy for around 1.5 million households.

Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke to Prime Minister Boris Johnson about the project on her farewell visit to Great Britain in early July. “From the point of view of the federal government, NeuConnect can offer considerable economic and energy-related advantages,” said the Ministry of Economics in Berlin on request. The project offers opportunities to relieve the German transmission network, reduce costs and integrate renewable energies across borders.

Although “NeuConnect” is part of the federal requirement plan, the federal government does not contribute financially. Even the British government, which also supports the project, does not pay any money for the 1.4 billion pounds (1.66 billion euros) cable. A consortium of investors is assuming the costs of what is currently the largest single German-British project. “NeuConnect will help us ensure that renewable energies are not wasted,” said the Department of Commerce in London. Only recently, Great Britain and Norway put the world’s longest undersea power cable into operation. There is already an interconnector through the North Sea between Germany and the Scandinavian country: “Nordlink” enables access to German wind power on the one hand and electricity from Norwegian hydropower plants in the other.

“Saudi Arabia of Wind Power”

Above all, the British hope that the connection will lower costs for consumers. The price for electricity has so far been consistently higher than in Germany. So far the country has been an electricity importer, in 2020 5.4 percent of the electricity demand was met from abroad. The country already operates several interconnectors, for example with France, Ireland and the Netherlands. More are planned. Germany, for its part, can deliver excess electricity with “NeuConnect”. “The first connection of two of the largest European energy markets will lead to a more resilient and more sustainable power supply in Germany and Great Britain,” said NeuConnect Deutschland GmbH.

Prime Minister Johnson wants to significantly advance green energies and shape Great Britain into the “Saudi Arabia of wind power” by 2040. The capacity is expected to quadruple from 10 gigawatts in 2019 to 2030. The United Kingdom wants to become an electricity exporter, as the federally owned company Germany Trade and Invest (GTAI) writes in an analysis.

So far, however, Great Britain has been dependent on electricity imports. France is currently using this in the dispute over fishing rights in the English Channel and is threatening to suspend deliveries to the Channel Island of Jersey. In any case, the interconnector with France is currently unable to operate at full capacity after a fire in a British power distribution center. That had increased the pressure on electricity prices in the UK dramatically.

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