Wednesday, 22 February 2012

€1.1bn under-sea cable to connect England and Scotland

I am not sure of the logic behind this, just seems like hard work to run a cable in the sea when we are joined together...

While politicians talk of Scottish independence from England, a world-beating €1.1bn contract has today been announced to make the two countries even more interconnected.

The Western HVDC Link will be the first submarine grid interconnector ever that uses a high voltage direct current (HVDC), and is to join the Glasgow and Wirral areas along the bed of the Irish Sea. It is planned to be up and running by 2016.

No ordinary wire, this grid connection has two other claims to fame: it will be the longest 2,200MW capacity HVDC cable in the world, as well as the first to use a voltage level of 600kV (600,000 volts).
This will increase the link’s capacity and provide lower transmission losses.

The highest voltage level used to date has been 500 kV; Siemens says that raising the voltage level in the cable by 20% raises the amount of electrical capacity it can handle by the same amount, while still using the same diameter of copper in the cable, thereby reducing the cost of this expensive material.

Furthermore, the transmission losses over its 420km will be reduced to below 3% (including cable and converter losses). A conventional 400-kv A.C. connector would lose about three times this amount.
The project has been commissioned by the National Grid Electricity Transmission and its counterpart Scottish Power Transmission from Italian cable company Prysmian and the German company Siemens Energy, to bring renewable energy from Scotland and the Irish Sea to help England meet its 2020 renewable targets.

The order comprises cable installation along the route and construction of converter stations in Hunterston, in Ayrshire, and Connah's Quay on the Wirral peninsula on the Wales-England border.

Ignacio Galán, chairman of ScottishPower, said that the project should be seen "in the context of a vital upgrading of the UK electricity grid over the coming years, with the electricity grid between Scotland and England already running close to maximum capacity".

He said that ScottishPower expects to invest a total of £2.6bn between 2013-2021 on upgrading its transmission network in the UK.

"Overall, we are projecting investments totalling £12bn in the UK over the course of this decade, including major offshore wind projects around the country,” he added.

Nick Winser, executive director at National Grid, said: “This link will have a vital role of play in helping to address the problem of climate change.

"We are investing in an innovative solution using the most advanced technology. The benefits for consumers and electricity generators in being able to transport power in the most efficient way, will be felt for years to come.”

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