First DC connection between Europe and North Africa gets €45 million from EIB

First DC connection between Europe and North Africa gets €45 million from EIB

Elmed, set to become the first direct current (DC) connection between Europe and North Africa, has secured €45 million in funding from the European Investment Bank (EIB).

Partanna electrical substation. Source: Elmed Project

The €921 million project concerns the implementation of an HVDC link interconnecting Tunisia and Italy across the Strait of Sicily and the associated connections to the respective national grids.

The power line, designed as a monopole with sea return, will run from the electrical substation at Partanna in Sicily to the substation at Mlaabi on the Tunisian peninsula of Capo Bon, for a total length of 220 kilometers, of which 200 is undersea cable. It will have a capacity of 600 MW, DC voltage of 500 kV and a maximum depth of approximately 800 meters.

Italy’s transmission system operator (TSO) Terna and STEG, the Tunisian electricity and gas company, are in charge of the electricity interconnection.

Construction is expected to start this year, with project completion anticipated in 2028.

The project aims at developing cross-border trade of electricity between the EU and Tunisia, facilitating the deployment of renewables, and improving the resilience of the Tunisian power system to demand/supply mismatches, thereby contributing to support stable economic growth and the transition to a low carbon energy system.

The EIB financing was approved on December 13, 2023, and the contract was signed on December 30.

The news came a month after the announcement that the European Commission had set aside €307 million for the project.

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