There are currently four high-voltage electricity interconnectors that connect Britain to the Netherlands (BritNed), France (IFA), and the island of Ireland (Moyle and EWIC). A fifth connection, running to Belgium (Nemo), is due to go live at the end of January. At least another eight are planned to be developed by the late 2020s, nearly trebling the supply capacity that currently exists. Interconnectors are important for energy and climate change for several reasons. They help decarbonise UK electricity consumption by importing lower carbon power from countries such as France which has lots of nuclear power, and – in future – Norway and Iceland which generate electricity from hydro and geothermal. They also contribute to decarbonisation by helping to match supply and demand, which in turn allows more renewables and electric vehicles. After Brexit the UK is expected to leave the EU’s internal energy market, as well as key EU market arrangements and trading platforms. These allow electricity trade to happen in the most efficient and cost-effective way and losing access to them could lead to higher bills for consumers. This would also reduce the system benefits of developing interconnectors as they cannot work at their most effective, which in turn would have negative consequences for future development of renewables. But irrespective of the outcome of Brexit, the UK should build more interconnection as it is a ‘no-regrets’ option for the UK.
Ecologist 29th Jan 2019 read more »