NSL interconnector cable entering the sea for National Grid's 'Interconnector myth buster' article

Interconnector myth buster

We looked at the questions you wanted answered about interconnectors and asked our experts to bust the most common myths about these giant undersea electricity cables. Find out the truth about interconnectors and how they’re helping to provide cleaner, greener energy.

1. They can’t help us reach net zero

Interconnectors play a vital role in helping us to reach net zero. Fossil fuels deliver a reliable supply of energy, but they also produce harmful carbon emissions. Renewable energy is clean, but it is more intermittent – if the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow we can’t generate solar or wind power.

Interconnectors allow us, and our neighbours, to import clean energy when we need it, within a matter of minutes. They also allow us to export excess energy to our neighbours when they need it. This flexibility is critical to continue to deliver a reliable supply of energy, as we transition towards net zero and an energy system dominated by renewable power.

2. Building interconnectors will increase electricity prices

Interconnectors actually help to reduce energy costs, by giving the UK access to cheaper electricity from abroad. Hitting the UK government target for interconnectors would help save UK consumers up to £20 billion.

3. They won’t work after Brexit

We’re keen to see the UK and European Union cooperate on energy, because that’s the best thing for both the UK and Europe. However, we’ve prepared and we’re ready for life outside of the EU. We’ve worked with our European partners to put contingency plans in place to make sure interconnectors are able to keep flowing, even in a no deal scenario.

4. They’re just importing dirty energy from Europe, instead of generating it in the UK

Both the UK and EU have set interconnector targets, because they are recognised as the ideal technology to help the growth and integration of renewable energy. By importing power from mainland Europe, we estimate that our interconnectors will help the UK avoid more than 100 million tonnes of carbon emissions between now and 2030.
 

Fast facts

  • Interconnectors are high-voltage electricity cables that are laid around 1-1.5m beneath the seabed to allow us to share energy between countries.
  • The longest interconnector will be Viking Link, which will run between the UK and Denmark and cover 760km.
  • The Nemo Link cable, which runs between the UK and Belgium, is 1100mm2.
  • Interconnectors can transfer electricity between countries within minutes.
  • There are three operational interconnectors in the UK and three more are under construction.
  • In 2019, interconnectors supplied 16.4TWh of zero-carbon energy into the UK – enough to power 4.6million homes.
BritNed interconnector cable