€90 million Italian undersea cable starts operating

Italy’s €90 million undersea cable starts operating

Italian transmission system operator (TSO) Terna has put into operation the €90 million undersea cable that connects the island of Elba with Italy’s mainland – a project said to be of fundamental importance for the country’s entire electricity system.

The power line connects Portoferraio and Piombino, in the Livorno province, and boasts a total length of approximately 37 kilometers, 34 of which are undersea and three completely underground.

According to Terna, it is an essential infrastructure which doubles the connection lines between the Italian electricity system and the grid on the island of Elba.

“The new connection between the island of Elba and Tuscany is important for multiple reasons. First of all, thanks to Terna’s €90 million investment, it significantly improves the safety and reliability of the island’s electricity grid,” said Giuseppina Di Foggia, Terna Chief Executive Officer and General Manager.

“The project was also developed in compliance with the highest sustainability standards: the connection is, in fact, invisible and advanced laying techniques were used to safeguard the important local marine biodiversity.”

Prysmian’s cable-laying vessel (CLV) Leonardo Da Vinci laid the 132 kV undersea cable at a maximum depth of around 70 meters below sea level, starting from the island landing site at Portoferraio and continuing towards the continental coast of Piombino.

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Terna noted that the activities took place safeguarding the local marine habitat. Namely, in the months before the start of cable-laying, around 53,000 plants of Posidonia seagrass – an aquatic plant typical of the Mediterranean Sea that plays a strategic role in the entire marine ecosystem – were planted in the Gulf of Follonica covering 1,650m2 in total.

Furthermore, the cable landing sites were made using the horizontal directional drilling (HDD) technique, which makes it possible to install a pipe while limiting interference with aquatic plants and canceling out the impact of the works on the shoreline, also ensuring the electrical connection is mechanically protected as needed, the Italian TSO stated.