A new subsea cable between Belgium and the UK will help balance out fluctiations in renewable energy production

Belgium to UK subsea cable contracts awarded

Contracts to provide technology for a planned subsea cable connecting the Belgian and UK electricity grids have been awarded to Siemens and J-Power Systems.

While Siemens will provide the high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission system for the so-called Nemo Link, J-Power Systems will design, manufacture and install the HVDC XLPE insulated cable.

Nemo Link, designed to cover the 130km distance from Kent in the UK to Zeebrugge in Belgium, is a joint project between the UK’s National Grid and Belgian electric transmissions system operator Elia Group.

The €500m system - expected to be fully operational by 2019 - will provide about 1,000MW of capacity, enough to power 500,000 households.

“We are very pleased to be working with Nemo Link on another landmark HVDC project that will support the integration of the European energy market,” said Tim Dawidowsky, CEO of the Transmission Solutions Business Unit within Siemens Energy Management Division.

Nemo Link has been designated as one of the European Commission’s projects of common interest to help create an integrated European Union energy market. It will increase energy security in both participating countries and support the integration of renewable energy, such as offshore generated wind power.

The utilisation of HVDC avoids the need to synchronise the two interconnected AC networks. The converter stations on each side of the sea will be using HVDC Plus voltage-sourced converters in a modular multilevel converter that convert AC to DC and DC back to AC on the other side of the link.

The Nemo Link interconnector - the third subsea electricity cable between the UK and continental Europe - will allow power to flow in both directions. The 1,000MW interconnector BritNed between UK and the Netherlands was also developed by Siemens and went in to operation in 2011.

The XLPE cable provided by J-Power Systems does not require oil insulation like most other conventional cables. The cable operates at a higher temperature which provides extra safety margins in case of unpredictable fluctuations of current flows.

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