7 huge underwater cables to give energy link to UK, Germany for the first time

Onshore wind turbines in Germany. The NeuConnect project says the interconnection will enable Britain to “tap into Germany’s huge energy infrastructure, including its significant renewable energy source.”

Thomas E. By Gunarson | Moment open | Getty Images

A total of more than £ 1.5 billion ($ 1.95 billion) worth of key contracts have been awarded for a major interconnection project connecting Germany and the United Kingdom as countries around the world seek to increase their energy supply amid the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.

The NeuConnect project is centered around a subsidiary cable that will enable 1.4 gigawatts of electricity to flow between the UK and Germany – the two largest economies in Europe. The interconnector measures 725 kilometers, or just 450 miles.

Those behind NeuConnect have described the privately funded initiative as an “invisible energy highway” and described it as “the first direct connection between the UK and German energy markets”.

The contracts that have been awarded relate only to installation work and conversion stations. NewConnect says Siemens Energy has been awarded the contract for the latter, which is involved in the design and construction of sites in Germany and the United Kingdom.

The NeuConnect project has previously said that the interconnection would enable Britain to tap into Germany’s huge energy infrastructure, including its significant renewable energy source.

For Germany, it says, “the new link with Britain will help ease existing barriers where wind turbines are often driven due to the creation of additional renewable energy.”

Monday’s announcement said NeuConnect’s financial shutdown was scheduled for “next week,” which would allow it to begin operations sometime in 2022.

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The project has been working for some time now, but its progress comes at a time when Russia’s aggression in Ukraine has highlighted how dependent some economies are on Russian fossil fuels.

Indeed, while the war in Ukraine has created geopolitical tensions and divisions, it has also resulted in a number of initiatives defined by cooperation and shared goals.

The United States and the European Commission, for example, recently issued a statement on energy security announcing the formation of a joint task force on the issue.

The parties say the United States will “try to ensure” at least 15 billion cubic meters of extra liquefied natural gas for the European Union this year. It is expected to grow further in the future.

President Joe Biden says the United States and the EU will “work together to take specific measures to reduce dependence on natural gas – the duration – and most importantly the availability and use of renewable energy.”

NeuConnect is not the only project focusing on connecting the UK with other parts of Europe.

Last year, a 450-mile subsidiary cable connecting the United Kingdom and Norway, enabling them to share renewable energy, began commercial operations.

The idea behind the North Sea Link, as it is known, is to harness Norway’s hydropower and the UK’s wind power resources.

Back in the UK, 2020 saw plans announced for a multi-billion pound “underwater energy superhighway” that would allow Scotland-generated electricity to be shipped to the north-east of England.

The Eastern Link project, which is currently in the early stages of development, is focusing on the development of a pair of high-voltage direct current cables with a total capacity of 4 gigawatts.

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