Huge submarine cables to give UK, Germany the first energy connection

Onshore wind turbines in Germany. The NeuConnect project says the interconnector will enable Great Britain to “attract the major energy infrastructure in Germany, including its major renewable energy sources.”

By Thomas E. Gunnarsson | Moment Open | Getty Images

Key contracts totaling more than £ 1.5 billion ($ 1.95 billion) have been committed for a major interconnector project that will connect Germany and the United Kingdom, as countries around the world try to shore up their energy supplies amid the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.

The NeuConnect project focuses on submarine cables that can carry 1.4 gigawatts of electricity in both directions between the United Kingdom and Germany – Europe’s two largest economies. The interconnector measures 725 kilometers, or just over 450 kilometers.

Those behind NeuConnect called the privately funded company an “invisible energy highway” and described it as “the first direct link between the UK and German energy markets.”

The contracts awarded relate to cabling operations and converter stations. NeuConnect said Siemens Energy has been awarded the contract for the latter, which will involve the design and construction of sites in Germany and the United Kingdom

The NeuConnect project has previously said that the interconnector will enable Britain to “tap the major energy infrastructure in Germany, including its key sustainable energy sources.”

For Germany, it says “the new connection with Britain will help reduce current bottlenecks where wind turbines are often shut down due to an excess of renewable energy being generated.”

Monday’s announcement said NeuConnect’s financial closure was planned for the “coming weeks”, allowing work to begin at some point in 2022.

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The project has been in the works for a while now, but the progress comes at a time when Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has marked just how dependent some economies are on Russian fossil fuels.

Indeed, while the war in Ukraine has created geopolitical tension and division, it has also resulted in a number of initiatives defined by cooperation and shared goals.

For example, the US and European Commission recently issued a statement on energy security announcing the establishment of a joint task force on the subject.

The parties said the US “strives to guarantee” at least 15 billion cubic meters of extra liquefied natural gas for the EU this year. She added that this was expected to increase in the future.

President Joe Biden said the US and the EU would also “work together to take concrete measures to reduce natural gas dependence – period – and to maximize the availability and use of renewable energy.”

NeuConnect is not the only project aimed at connecting the UK with other parts of Europe.

Last year, a 450-mile submarine cable connecting the UK and Norway, allowing them to share renewable energy, began commercial operations.

The idea behind the North Sea Link, as it is known, is to harness the hydropower of Norway and the wind energy sources of the United Kingdom.

Back in the UK, 2020 saw plans announced for a multi-billion pound “underwater energy superhighway” that would allow electricity produced in Scotland to be sent to the north east of England.

The Eastern Link project, which is currently in the early stages of development, is to focus on the development of a pair of high voltage direct current cables that have a total capacity of 4 GW.

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