UK and France strengthen ties on energy cooperation

UK and France strengthen ties on energy security and resilience

The governments of the UK and France have signed a new agreement committing to greater cooperation on energy resilience and low-carbon technologies, which could potentially support a rise in electricity interconnection by two thirds.

Agnès Pannier-Runacher/ Twitter

The Statement of Cooperation on Energy was signed on 10 March by the UK’s Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero Grant Shapps and the French Minister for Energy Transition Agnès Pannier-Runacher.

With the agreement, the parties committed to greater cooperation on energy resilience, including interconnection and energy security, low carbon technologies, such as hydrogen, offshore wind and carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS), as well as civil nuclear, including new build, R&D and decommissioning.

The UK and France noted that they recognize that their energy systems will evolve as they transition to net zero and, when mutually beneficial, commit to progressing future interconnection projects, while ensuring timely coordination with onshore grid developments.

The parties are also working together on the deployment of hydrogen technology, its market adoption, certification and definition of renewable and low-carbon hydrogen, as well as acknowledge their shared interest in cooperating on CCUS deployment, particularly to examine the potential of cross-border CO2 transport and storage, acknowledging the shared regulatory barriers to address.

The UK and France currently have three interconnectors with a capacity of 4 GW. The agreement could have the potential to support an increase in electricity interconnection by up to 2 thirds, subject to regulatory approval.

This is expected to take account of a re-examination of the case for new interconnection in France in 2023. In addition, increased interconnection will support the UK’s ambition to have at least 18 GW of interconnection capacity by 2030.

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“Successful economies need plentiful and reliable energy. Putin’s barbaric invasion of Ukraine has demonstrated that energy security can only be achieved by working with our international friends,” Shapps said.

“We are already partnering with France through these energy interconnectors, but we share the ambition to go much further.”

France and the UK said they would also cooperate in multilateral fora such as the North Seas Energy Cooperation (NSEC) to facilitate the development of offshore energy.

In recognition of the importance of all the areas of cooperation, a strategic working group and work program will be launched this year guided by six monthly Director General dialogues and an annual meeting of ministers.