One of Britain’s most important electricity import cables will not return to service for two years after a fire forced it to close, exacerbating UK energy problems ahead of a crisis imminent winter.
The fire at the Sellindge converter station in Kent forced the shutdown of the high-voltage cable that carries electricity from France to the UK last month as energy markets hit record levels record in a context of global energy supply difficulties.
National Grid, which owns the 2,000-megawatt cable, expects half of its capacity to return to service on Wednesday, but said “heavy work” would be needed to bring the power link back to full service.
Energy company FTSE 100 hopes to bring an additional 500 MW of capacity back into service between October 2022 and May 2023, meaning the cable will operate at three-quarters of its capacity this winter.
The cable, known as the IFA interconnect, will finally be put back into service after new work, which National Grid hopes to complete by October 2023.
“We are fully focused on getting the IFA back to service safely as soon as possible and ensuring that we are able to support the security of supply,” the company said in a statement.
The abrupt shutdown of the submarine cable has raised concern among industry experts over Britain’s energy supplies as record market prices were high across Europe.
Phil Hewitt, director of market consultancy firm EnAppSys, said at the time that the fire was “a major event” that would leave the UK “at risk” this winter “especially if we are suffering from periods low wind and cold temperatures. ”.
The power grid manager, which also belongs to National Grid, warned last week that the risk of power cuts to factories and homes this winter had increased after the cable outage combined with planned shutdowns of gas plants and the decommissioning of two nuclear reactors.
The operator’s annual winter outlook report said the UK had enough capacity to avoid power outages affecting households and factories, but tight supplies were likely to keep market prices low. near record levels throughout the winter.
UK homes and businesses are facing some of the highest energy bills on record due to the global gas boom, which has driven market prices soaring. The impact is expected to plunge hundreds of thousands of homes into fuel poverty for the first time and has already forced a slowdown in factories to deal with sky-high energy costs.