Why an interconnector?
Energy security: Interconnectors play a crucial role in the European Union’s strategy to achieve a competitive and integrated European energy market. By allowing the UK and Belgium to trade power, the Nemo Link interconnector will increase security and diversify both countries’ electricity supply.
Electricity prices: Greater opportunities for the UK to trade with wider European energy markets will contribute to downward pressure on wholesale electricity prices.
Supporting renewables: To meet international and domestic renewable and climate change targets, the UK and Belgium will generate more power from renewable sources, including offshore wind. By its nature, wind generation is intermittent and interconnectors provide an effective way to manage these fluctuations in supply and demand.
Why Belgium and the UK?
- Belgium’s electricity transmission system is very well connected to Central Europe. The Nemo Link interconnector between Belgium and the UK offers a new and robust connection to the European electricity grid.
- The Nemo Link interconnector will improve security of supply in both countries. The technology used will also ensure that normal operation is restored faster in the event of any disturbance on the grid.
- The Nemo Link interconnector will give Belgium and the UK access to a broader energy mix, providing the countries with new opportunities to expand into other electricity markets. The market forces of supply and demand will result in lower prices in peak-consumption periods, while the time difference of an hour between the two countries will also have a positive influence.
- The intermittent nature of wind generation, which is currently being developed on a large scale in Europe, is creating a need for new interconnectors between the UK and the European continent. If too much renewable energy is generated in one region, the energy that is surplus to requirements can easily be transmitted through the interconnectors to a region where the level of demand is higher. This will also has a beneficial impact on market prices.
- The distance between the UK and Belgium is relatively short, which minimises the length of the subsea cables.
Why South East England?
- South East England offers the shortest route between the two countries, and therefore reduces the costs, environmental impacts and construction risks associated with the installation of subsea cables.
- The South East region (including London) is a high centre of electricity demand in the UK.
- A robust needs case concluded that the former Richborough Power Station site offers both a feasible subsea cable route and an appropriate site for the converter station.
- The high voltage grid in the coastal area of Belgium has insufficient capacity to satisfy important future needs in the Zeebrugge harbour region.
- Several offshore wind farms and other renewable initiatives are being developed before the Belgian coast and will be connected to Belgian transmission system in this area.
- To be able to connect these new developments to the transmission system, Elia is doing a reinforcement of the 380 kV system between Zomergem and Zeebrugge (Stevin project).
- Herdersbrug is an industrial area close to the Gezelle substation, which is part of the Stevin project.