Decision deadline approaches for controversial interconnector

4C Offshore | Tom Russell
By: 19/01/2022 4C Offshore

Kwasi Kwarteng, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, is set to make a decision on the
AQUIND Interconnector project later this week (21 January 2022). Fraught with controversy, concerns have been raised over the projects impact on national and energy security.

AQUIND is a proposed new subsea and underground high voltage direct current power transmission link between the South Coast of England and Normandy in France. The original deadline for the decision on the AQUIND Interconnector application was 8 September 2021. This deadline was previously extended to 21 October 2021. The Secretary of State then decided to push the decision back even further and set a new deadline of 21 January 2022.

Penny Mordaunt, MP Portsmouth North, recently wrote to the secretary of state outlining some objections and comments regarding the project. She said "Portsmouth continues its united front against the scheme."

Mordaunt also noted: "My prime concern is that the scheme would have an extremely concerning impact on our security. Concerns have been raised about the telecommunications ambitions of the project and I am not at all satisfied that they have been mitigated from AQUIND’s recent replies.

"To let the unwanted, unnecessary and unsafe project proceed would be a mammoth error of judgement. He can be in no doubt of the arguments we have made about how this scheme would damage both our national security and resilience."

Mordaunt also reiterated concerns over the UK's energy security, highlighting recent threats from France regarding cutting off power to Jersey during a dispute over fishing licences post-Brexit for French fishermen last year. Jersey imports the Lion's share of its power from France via three subsea interconnectors. This power is also shared with Guernsey.

France has previously threatened UK energy supply over fishing rights. Back in October, before the UK left the EU, French President Emmanuel Macron warned of energy embargoes for the UK, blocking its access to the EU energy market following disagreements on fishing activities. At the time there was concern that if UK left the EU without a deal, French fishermen would be banned from UK waters.

The UK currently receives power from two interconnectors,
IFA and IFA2, with France and construction of another project, ElecLink, was recently completed and is expected to be commissioned this year.

With a capacity of 2 GW,
AQUIND is designed to boost the security of supply, help foster renewable power integration and provide each nation's grids with ancillary services. Over the course of a year, the project is expected to allow the transmission of 16 TWh.

For more information on subsea cable and interconnector projects worldwide, click here. Alternatively, you can projects on 4C Offshore's interactive map.