Nemo converter station

UK-Belgium ‘Nemo Link’ electricity interconnector ready for use

Image credit: Siemens

A cable link allowing the UK and Belgium to trade electricity has been formally inaugurated this week. Nemo Link is the first transmission link between the two countries.

The interconnector, which cost £600m, is a joint venture between National Grid and Belgian transmission system operator Elia. It stretches 140km (80 miles) from Herdersbrug on the Belgian coast to Richborough in Kent through a combination of subsea and underground cables and has a capacity of 1,000MW.

This is the UK’s first subsea power cable to Belgium and is expected to add flexibility to both countries’ energy systems when it becomes operational in early 2019.

Siemens supplied and installed the converter stations and all associated equipment for converting the alternating current of the national grids to direct current for transmission at +/-400kV and back to AC at the receiving end. The HVDC cable was supplied and installed by Sumitomo Electric.

More than 1,400 engineers and project specialists have worked on the project since construction began in 2015.

Ralf Christian, CEO at Siemens Energy Management Division, said: “The collaboration between Elia, National Grid, Siemens and our partners has delivered an exemplar project, on time, on budget and with outstanding safety. This has been down to the exceptional commitment and solidarity of all the people involved, working as one team, across Belgium, the UK and Germany.”

John Pettigrew, chief executive officer of National Grid, said: “Nemo Link will bring great benefits to consumers in both the UK and Belgium by offering both countries access to a broader energy mix and providing opportunities to expand into other electricity markets. Over the next five years, National Grid will be investing more than £2 billion in new interconnectors to Europe and this significant commitment is driven by the value and benefits that interconnectors deliver to customers.”

During the construction of the link engineers found more than 1,200 unexploded objects, including mines and WW2 bombs. Over 30 of these were detonated by Royal Navy divers.

Finds also included a 17th-century cannon off the UK coast, loaded and ready for battle. The cannon is currently being restored by experts at Wessex Archaeology.

Nemo Link is National Grid’s third interconnector to Europe following the success of the 2000MW IFA connecting the UK to France, and BritNed which joins the UK to the Netherlands with 1000MW capacity.

The company also has two more under construction, North Sea Link which will connect the UK and Norway and IFA 2 which will provide a second link to France. These will add 1400 and 1000MW of capacity respectively.

Last month, the company announced it had been given financial approval for the construction of the 1400MW Viking Link, which will connect the UK with Denmark.

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