Eurotunnel ElecLink goes live

Electrical equipment
Eurotunnel Eleclink, Calais, France, 12 December 2018; photo © Getlink SE via press release

Getlink, the operator of Eurotunnel, is proud to announce that ElecLink has successfully completed its full go-live preparations and is now able to launch its commercial operations in liaison with National Grid and le Réseau de Transport d’Électricité (RTE).

ElecLink, the 1GW HVDC electricity interconnector between France and the UK is green by nature, with no interference with the marine ecosystem. This new electrical link will help promote security of supply, decarbonisation, and affordability of consumer energy bills.

ElecLink looks forward to its first auctions

The first power flowed over the 52km-long cable installed within the Channel Tunnel on 25 May 2022, a world première.

Yann Leriche, Chief Executive Officer of Getlink, said:

The official launch of ElecLink’s activity rewards the dedication of the whole staff of the Group. Given the current unprecedented volatility and uncertainty in electricity prices in the UK and France the go-live of ElecLink could not come at a better time for energy consumers across both countries”.

Capacity of IFA halved by fire in Kent

Readers may remember that in September of 2021 the France-England Interconnector (l’Interconnexion France-Angleterre – IFA) suffered damage by fire at its Sellindge converter station near Ashford. With four of its eight submarine cables out of service, its capacity fell by a half to one gigawatt, or 1 000 megawatts. As you can see from Getlink’s press release, ElecLink’s one-gigawatt capacity compensates for that loss.

Meanwhile, regarding the Sellindge facility,

National Grid initially announced that half of the link capacity would be restored within a fortnight, with full capacity being restored in March 2022. The shutdown came at a time of high prices and supply shortage in the UK electricity market, caused by low wind speeds and high prices for natural gas. On 15 October 2021, National Grid announced that half of the link capacity would be restored within the next few days, that 75 percent capacity would be available between October 2022 and May 2023, and that they hoped to restore full capacity by October 2023.[3]

Cooling towers near river Loire
EDF Nuclear Power Station at Belleville-sur-Loire, France. Photo François Goglins, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

Nuclear generation in France

Nuclear power is the largest source of electricity in France, with a generation of 379.5 TWh, or 70.6 percent of the country’s total electricity production of 537.7 TWh, the highest percentage in the world. Since June of 2020, it has 56 operable reactors totalling 61 370 MWe, one under construction (1630 MWe), and 14 shut down or in decommissioning (5 549 MWe).

Électricité de France (EDF) – the country’s main electricity generation and distribution company – manages the country’s 56 power reactors. EDF is substantially owned by the French Government, with around 85 percent shares in government hands.

Nuclear power was deployed in large quantities in France following the 1973 oil crisis according to the Messmer plan. This was based on projections that large amounts of electric power would be required. In the end too much nuclear power capacity was installed, and this has led to relatively low production, load following, and high electricity exports. France exported 38 TWh of electricity to its neighbours in 2017. However, the country still becomes a net importer of electricity when demand exceeds supply, such as in cases of very inclement weather. (Wikipedia)