France looking at options to increase interconnection capacity with UK

France looking at options to increase interconnection capacity with UK

The French Energy Regulatory Commission is investigating the opportunity for a new electricity interconnection between France and the UK, in addition to three that are currently operating.

France’s Commission de régulation de l’énergie (CRE) launched a public consultation on March 5 concerning the opportunity to increase interconnection capacity between the two countries, as well as the technical and economic comparison of projects that French transmission system operator (TSO) Réseau de Transport d’Electricité (RTE) carried out.

Three electricity interconnectors with a total capacity of 4 GW are currently in service between France and the UK, including the 2 GW IFA 2000, commissioned in 1986, the 1 GW IFA2, commissioned in January 2021, and the 1 GW ElecLink, commissioned in May 2022.

In addition, several projects for new interconnectors between the countries are under study, including the 2 GW Aquind, the 1.25 GW FAB and the 1.25 GW GridLink, as well as a new interconnector project with a capacity of 1 GW using the Channel Tunnel undertaken by Getlink.

In January 2022, CRE refused an investment application submitted by GridLink on March 17, 2021, because of major uncertainties about the benefits of the project, reinforced by the UK’s exit from the European Union.

CRE said it believes it is necessary to reassess the value of new interconnection capacity with the UK given the new energy mix trajectories in the UK, France, and the EU, particularly in connection with the revision of the greenhouse gas emission reduction targets included in the Fit for 55 package, as well as the crisis in the wholesale electricity markets in 2022 and 2023 which highlighted the decisive role of interconnectors in terms of security of supply.

The French Energy Regulatory Commission has therefore commissioned a study of the potential benefits of new interconnections with the UK, based on the most recent scenarios and on the Ten-Year Network Development Plan (TYNDP 2022) published by ENTSO-E, which shows that, under certain conditions, a new interconnection project with a capacity of around 1 GW could be economically profitable on a European scale.

However, the study shows that the benefits are significantly higher for the UK than for France, which should be reflected in the distribution of costs between the two countries, and it is on this condition that France could find an economic interest in such a project.

In a letter dated October 13, 2023, RTE sent CRE its analysis of the desirability of a new interconnector project between the two countries, stating that it considers there is an interest, under certain conditions, in building a new interconnector of approximately 1 GW.

RTE said it had been approached by each of the four project developers about the possibility of jointly developing an interconnector, and after comparing the projects on a set of criteria, it considers that the one envisaged by GetLink is the most interesting from a technical and economic point of view.

CRE said it agrees with the results of the comparison study, adding that as the projects have different levels of maturity, the choice of a project will require verification of a certain number of conditions, particularly a positive assessment of its interest by the competent authority in the UK.

The deadline for submitting responses for the public consultation is Friday, April 19, by 11:59 p.m. local time. At the end of the public consultation, CRE may, if necessary, decide whether to approve RTE’s investment program, which includes an interconnection project between France and the UK.