The Anonymous Widower

How Is The XLinks Project Progressing?

 

The Wikipedia entry for the XLinks project has this introductory paragraph.

The Xlinks Morocco-UK Power Project is a proposal to create 10.5 GW of renewable generation, 20 GWh of battery storage and a 3.6 GW high-voltage direct current interconnector to carry solar and wind-generated electricity from Morocco to the United Kingdom. Morocco has far more consistent weather, and so should provide consistent solar power even in midwinter.

I ask the question in the title of this post, as there are two articles about the XLinks project in The Times today.

This article is optimistic and is entitled Xlinks Morocco Project Could Throw Britain A Renewable Energy Lifeline.

On the other hand this article is more pessimistic and is entitled Britain ‘Risks Losing Out’ On Green Energy From The Sahara.

This is the first paragraph of the second article.

Sir Dave Lewis has complained of “frustratingly slow” talks with the government over an £18 billion plan to generate power in the Sahara and cable it to Britain. The former Tesco chief executive has warned that the energy could be routed elsewhere unless ministers commit to the scheme.

It appears there have been little agreement on the price.

I have some thoughts.

Will XLinks Get Funding?

Xlinks is going to be privately funded, but I have doubts about whether the funding will be made available.

As an engineer, who was involved in many of the major offshore projects of the last forty years of the last century, I believe that the XLinks project is feasible, but it is only 3.6 GW.

These wind farm projects are also likely to be privately funded.

  • SSE’s Berwick Bank project opposite Berwick is 4.1 GW
  • Aker’s Northern Horizon off Shetland is 10 GW.
  • The Scotwind Leasing Round is 25 GW.
  • There is talk of 10 GW being possible off East Anglia.
  • 50 GW may be being possible in the Celtic Sea.
  • BP is planning 3 GW in Morecambe Bay.

Many of these enormous wind power projects are looking for completion on or before 2030, which is the date given for the Morocco cable.

I do wonder, if those financing these energy projects will find these and other projects better value than a link to Morocco.

Is the Project Bold Enough?

Consider.

  • Spain has high levels of solar, wind and hydro power.
  • France is developing wind to go with their nuclear.
  • Both countries and Portugal, also have mountains for sensibly-sized pumped-storage hydroelectric power stations.
  • France, Spain, Portugal and Ireland also have the Atlantic for wind, tidal and wave power.

Perhaps, the solution, is an Atlantic interconnector linking the UK, Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal and Gibraltar to West Africa.

Any excess power would be stored in the pumped-storage hydroelectric power stations and withdrawn as required.

In the UK, the National Grid are already using the huge 7800 GWh Ulla-Førre pumped-storage hydroelectric power station to store excess wind-generated energy using the North Sea Link from Blyth.

To my mind XLinks is just a UK-Morocco project.

BP’s Project In Mauretania

In bp And Mauritania To Explore Green Hydrogen At Scale, I discussed BP’s deal to create green hydrogen in Mauretania.

Is this a better plan, as hydrogen can be taken by tanker to where it is needed And for the best price.

Conclusion

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the XLinks project change direction.

November 14, 2022 - Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage, Finance, Hydrogen | , , , , , , , , ,

3 Comments »

  1. Its a ludicrous concept in the first place and a cable in the middle of the ocean is somewhat at risk from terrorism. We just need to crack on with building out our own wind opportunities with a nationally coordinated programme ie like the CEGB lead from the 50’s into the 60’s which was hugely successful in transforming the country and peoples lives and gets very little recognition. Also we need to onshore capability to manufacture all the kit ourselves even if the entity is foreign owned ie tell Vesta, Siemens Gamesa, Hitachi etc that they have to be at least 50% local manufacture or assembly if they want to sell into UK.

    Comment by Nicholas Lewis | November 14, 2022 | Reply

  2. I saw those articles too. I believe Dave Lewis when he says raising cash is ‘easy’. And I think the government would be very short-sighted not to give the project a CfD-type contract price. If wholesale prices continue to be high, then it will be a very nice earner for HMG. And, as the article explains, XLinks has a major advantage over wind farms in that it can provide much more reliable power. (And I think CfD wind contracts should be changed to require reducing intermittency, for example with storage.)

    Interesting what the article says about German businesses becoming involved. I can easily see similar systems being developed to supply other N European countries. And I can also see other countries jumping in to take over if HMG refuses to grant a contract.

    Comment by Peter Robins | November 14, 2022 | Reply

    • I believe that raising money for these projects is easy, as they can give a constant return. I wrote about Aviva’s attitude four years ago in this post.

      World’s Largest Wind Farm Attracts Huge Backing From Insurance Giant

      XLinks has the storage.

      The Germans are very much involved in the financing of our electricity generation infrastructure. I suspect we’ll look on favourably, when they want to buy some spare GWs.

      I

      Comment by AnonW | November 14, 2022 | Reply


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