New subsea cable bringing zero carbon power from France launched

A new subsea power cable to France has been launched which will be able to provide enough zero carbon electricity for a million British homes, National Grid has said.

The 149-mile “interconnector” which runs along the seabed between Portsmouth, Hampshire, and near Caen, Normandy, is being “energised” – allowing electricity to run through the cable for testing before going live.

It is the fourth subsea interconnector to the continent and the second to France, and will enable the sharing of surplus clean energy between the two countries, the grid operator said.

National Grid is also developing cables along the seabed to Denmark to access wind power, as well as Norway, to link up with hydropower supplies.

The company said that by 2024, its portfolio of interconnectors will provide enough zero carbon energy to power eight million homes a year, avoiding a total of 100 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions by 2030.

As the UK increases its offshore wind farms, interconnectors will also enable Britain to sell excess renewable power to other countries.

The latest cable, known as IFA2, is expected to deliver 1.2% of Britain’s electricity needs, and by the end of its first year in operation will have helped avoid 1.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere by supplying power from France’s nuclear fleet, National Grid said.

The £700 million joint project with French operator RTE has remained on time and on budget despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the company added.

Jon Butterworth, chief executive of National Grid Ventures, said: “While the world is focused on the pandemic and managing the knock-on effects on our lives, we know that progress towards net zero can’t afford to falter and Britain needs to keep up the momentum in reducing harmful carbon emissions.

“The launch of the IFA2 interconnector, linking France and Britain’s power grids, is an important step in accelerating our progress to a cleaner, greener future.”