After almost three years of construction – and despite coronavirus pandemic restrictions – low-carbon electricity has now started flowing at full capacity through IFA2. Our second electricity interconnector linking the UK and France takes us a step further on the journey to net zero.
Interconnexion France-Angleterre 2 (IFA2) – which stretches along the sea floor between Fareham, Hampshire in the UK and near Caen, Normandy in France – has now gone into operation, with low-carbon electricity flowing through the 149-mile subsea power cable at full capacity. Interconnectors are high-voltage electricity cables that allow us to share surplus clean energy.
A joint venture with French transmission system operator RTE, IFA2 increases the amount of clean energy that can be shared between the two countries and is an important addition to our interconnector portfolio.
With a capacity of 1000-megawatts, the high-voltage direct current (HVDC) power cable can provide enough energy to power 1 million British homes and is expected to meet 1.2% of Britain’s electricity demand.
Since construction began in 2018, IFA2 has seen more than 1,000 engineers and specialists work a total of more than 3 million hours. But what’s made this extra impressive is that much of the work has been carried out in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, with social distancing restrictions carefully adhered to at all times by our teams.
Zac Richardson, Head of Interconnectors for National Grid Ventures, praised the IFA2 team’s efforts, saying: “The construction and operations team, together with our supply chain, have done an incredible job over the last few months to get us to this point – and all during a pandemic, which has meant the team having to work within significant social distancing restrictions on site.”
21 January 2021 was the first day of trading for the new interconnector’s electricity and saw wholesale power traders buying up all of the ‘day ahead’ capacity that was auctioned – an encouraging start.
By importing lower-carbon electricity from France, we estimate the project will have prevented 1.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) from entering the atmosphere – equivalent to planting 50 million trees – in its first full year of operation.
Our portfolio now has four operational interconnectors – two to France (IFA and IFA2), one to the Netherlands (BritNed) and one to Belgium (Nemo Link). Two further projects are under construction – Norway (North Sea Link, to be operational in 2021) and Denmark (Viking Link, operational in 2023).
By 2030, 90% of electricity imported via National Grid’s interconnectors will be from zero carbon sources. Between 2020 and 2030, we estimate that our interconnectors will prevent more than 100 million tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.
Jon Butterworth, Managing Director of National Grid Ventures, said: “IFA2 is the latest feat of world-class engineering, helping to transform and decarbonise the electricity systems of Britain and its European neighbours.
“We’re delighted to have been able to again work with our partners RTE, to strengthen the connection between the French and British power grids. Together we are now able to help deliver cleaner, more secure and more affordable energy to consumers at both ends of the cable.
“Our first interconnector together, IFA, has been successfully operating for more than 30 years. We look forward to working together with RTE over the next 30 years, to support the delivery of net zero targets to fight climate change across the UK and Europe.”