TotalEnergies dishes out millions for stake in huge renewable Morocco-UK power project
French energy giant TotalEnergies has expanded its portfolio by acquiring a minority stake in Xlinks First Limited, a company founded in 2019 in the United Kingdom, which is planning to bring a giant renewable energy project to life in Morocco to supply the UK with green electricity through the installation of high-voltage direct current (HDVC) subsea cables, along with a large battery energy storage.
Thanks to a £20 million investment, TotalEnergies is joining Octopus Energy and Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (TAQA) in the Xlinks Morocco-UK power project, which envisions a new electricity generation facility powered by solar and wind energy combined with a battery storage facility. This project is located in Morocco’s Guelmim Oued Noun region. It will be connected to the UK via 3,800 km HVDC subsea cables, enabling the generated power to be transmitted directly to Britain without connection to the Moroccan, Spanish, Portuguese, or French transmission networks.
Vincent Stoquart, SVP Renewables at TotalEnergies, commented: “We are delighted to join the Xlinks project and its other investors to support the development of such a pioneering and ambitious endeavor. This innovative project will benefit from our track record in developing large and complex integrated energy projects.”
The twin 1.8 GW HVDC subsea cable systems – which will be formed by four cables, each 3,800 km long – will follow the shallow water route from the Moroccan site to a grid location in the UK, passing Spain, Portugal, and France. Xlinks confirms that an agreement has been reached with National Grid for two 1.8 GW connections in Devon.
According to TotalEnergies, this project will deliver enough “renewable, reliable and affordable” electricity to power over 7 million British homes. The project is expected to generate 11.5 GW of zero-carbon electricity from the sun and wind to deliver 3.6 GW of reliable energy for an average of over 20 hours a day. As a result, the project will be capable of supplying 8% of the UK’s electricity needs upon completion.
Simon Morrish, CEO of Xlinks, remarked: “We are excited to welcome Europe’s largest energy company to be a part of our ambitious vision to foster long-distance power exchanges through this iconic partnership with the UK and Morocco. TotalEnergies’ investment goes far beyond capital, providing a rare combination of expertise in areas that meet the unique challenges we face. This marks a highly successful end to 2023 and will give us an even greater impetus to achieve our goals as we enter 2024.”
Furthermore, Xlinks explains that an onsite 22.5 GWh/5 GW battery facility, designed to complement the renewable energy already generated across the UK, is anticipated to provide sufficient storage to deliver “flexible and predictable” clean energy for Britain, as this will enable the power generated to be stored and delivered to the country at the times when it is needed. It will primarily be provided by Lithium-ion batteries like those used in electric cars, home battery systems, and utility-scale storage projects worldwide.
While pointing out that these batteries will allow it to install more solar PV systems and wind generation, maximizing the use of the subsea transmission system, Xlinks noted: “When domestic renewable energy generation in the United Kingdom drops due to low winds and short periods of sun, the project will harvest the benefits of long hours of sun in Morocco alongside the consistency of its convection Trade Winds, to provide a firm but flexible source of zero-carbon electricity.”