Transmission system operators in Belgium and the United Kingdom can now exchange electricity up to 1,000 mW using high voltage direct current (HVDC) technology. The joint venture between Elia and the National Grid connects the Belgian and the British power grid with a combination of subsea and underground cables.
This new 140 km long HVDC interconnection increases security of supply for both countries, allowing the import and export of electricity, as well as supporting the integration of renewable energy in the grid. The European Commission designated it a Project of Common Interest as it contributes to an integrated European energy market.
“The collaboration between Elia, National Grid, Siemens and our partners has delivered an exemplar project, on time, on budget and with outstanding safety," says Ralf Christian, CEO at Siemens Energy Management Division. "This has been down to the exceptional commitment and solidarity of all the people involved, working as one team, across Belgium, the UK and Germany. The team should be rightly proud of delivering such class-leading technology.”
Mirko Düsel, CEO Transmission Solutions at Siemens Energy Management, added, “Siemens engineering excellence has allowed this vital energy project to come to fruition. It will provide security of supply for both the UK and Belgium and will help meet overall decarbonization targets, when it opens in early 2019.”
The Nemo Link will bring great benefits to consumers in both the UK and Belgium by offering both countries access to a broader energy mix and providing opportunities to expand into other electricity markets, says John Pettigrew, Chief Executive Officer of National Grid.
"Over the next five years National Grid will be investing more than £2 billion in new interconnectors to Europe and this significant commitment is driven by the value and benefits that interconnectors like Nemo Link deliver to customers," Pettigrew says.
Chris Peeters, Chief Executive Officer of Elia, says the first interconnector between Belgium and the United Kingdom is a first for Belgium, both technically and strategically.
"This new interconnector - along with the soon to be completed ALEGrO connection with Germany - will enable us to significantly boost our energy exchange capacity and to position our infrastructure at the very heart of a future integrated European electricity system," Peeters says.
Siemens has supplied its HVDC Plus technology which is used to transport electrical power between the two countries. Therefore, Siemens has erected one HVDC converter station on either side of the Channel, transmitting 1,000 mW of electrical power with a transmission voltage of +/- 400 kV DC. In the first converter stations, the alternating current is transformed into direct current, which is transmitted via cable to the second converter station on the other side of the link, where it is transformed back to AC. HVDC Plus is a highly controllable and flexible system and brings operational benefits to both transmission systems. Siemens has installed HVDC Plus projects worldwide with a total capacity of 6.3 gigawatts.
In September 2017, Nemo Link reached one million man-hours worked, without losing any time to injuries. Therefore, the project has received the Sword of Honor an award for delivering highest safety standards in 2017.
Belgian and UK dignitaries, members of the European Commission as well as local authorities and partners visited the Herdersbrug site for the official opening ceremony of Nemo Link on December 5. This week is the start of a test phase for Nemo Link, which includes energy exchanges, to ensure that everything is working properly. This will be the final stage in the project before interconnector will go into commercial operation in the first quarter of 2019.