Plans underway for subsea cable to export electricity from Morocco with UK

Ed Reed writes on the Energy Voice website about plans from Xlinks to export electricity from Morocco to the UK from their renewable energy project in Morocco. It is going to be very interesting to see how this project evolves.


Xlinks launches Morocco-UK renewable energy plan

Xlinks has set out plans to export clean electricity from Morocco to the UK, via HVDC subsea cables.

The Morocco-UK Power Project will generate electricity in the North African state using solar and wind.

Facilities will cover around 1,500 square km, according to the Xlinks plan. This will be able to generate 3.6 GW of energy in the Guelmim-Oued Noun region.

In addition to the solar and wind facilities, the plan will have a 20 GWh/5 GW battery. This will allow it to continue exporting electricity as a “near constant” source of power.

Xlinks executive chair Sir Dave Lewis said the plan would use proven technology to deliver power to more than 7 million British homes this decade.

“The project will harness extremely reliable solar and wind power in Morocco to deliver vital baseload power balancing and enabling our own offshore wind ambitions, while reinforcing Morocco’s renewable energy industry,” he said. “Working in tandem with domestic renewables, it makes a reliable, net zero electricity system by 2035 much more possible in Britain.”

Xlinks vice chair is Paddy Padmanathan, president and CEO of ACWA Power. The latter is a major developer of renewable energy projects throughout the region, including in Morocco.

Cable ties

It will export the electricity to the UK via four subsea cables, running a distance of 3,800 km. Two 1.8 GW connectors will bring the HVDC links onshore at Alverdiscott in Devon.

Xlinks will create a cable manufacturing business in the UK, XLCC. This will provide around 1,350 new jobs by 2024.

It will build factories in Hunterston and Port Talbot. Deals have been signed and planning permission is under way. The company is discussing a third factory in the northeast.

XLCC will need to provide 15,200 km of HVDC cable to link Morocco to Devon. That said, the company predicted growing global demand for interconnectors would keep it busy for at least the next 20 years.

Xlinks does not expect to require subsidy or financing from the UK government, it said. Using the contracts for difference (CfD) mechanism, it will provide energy at £48/MWh CfD. This is below the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) central forecast, which will provide savings for consumers.

There will also be benefits for Morocco. Construction of the local facilities will generate nearly 10,000 jobs, Xlinks predicted, with 2,000 permanent positions.

While Morocco has been a supporter of renewable energy, the country has increased its reliance on coal in recent years. With threats mounting to its gas supply, following a dispute with neighbour Algeria, it is likely to face further strain in the short term.

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