The Anonymous Widower

XLCC Obtains Planning Approval To Build UK’s First HVDC Cable Factory In North Ayrshire

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from XLCC.

These are the first three paragraphs.

On 29th June 2022, the North Ayrshire Council Planning Committee resolved to grant planning permission for XLCC’s HVDC subsea cable manufacturing operations in Hunterston, Scotland.

Breaking ground in the coming months, the brownfield site will create a new UK industry to support global decarbonisation targets. Once fully operational, the facility will support 900 jobs in the area, with thousands more in the wider supply chain.

XLCC’s first order is for four 3,800km long cables to connect solar and wind renewable power generation in the Sahara to the UK for the Xlinks Morocco-UK power project.

XLCC have also issued two other important press releases.

XLCC To Build New Cable Laying Vessel To Address Increase In Future Demand For HVDC Cable

These are the first paragraphs.

XLCC, the new HVDC, renewable energy focused business in the UK, has completed the concept design of an advanced, first-of-a-kind Cable Laying Vessel to be delivered in the first half of 2025.

As the world strives for Net Zero, the UK, EU and other world economies have set themselves ambitious targets for decarbonisation. The UK, for example, has stated that it will be powered entirely by clean energy by 2035 and that it will fully decarbonise the power system in the same time frame. This ambition is driving an exponential growth in high voltage cable demand as the increase in installation of offshore wind and interconnectors drive a forecast six times increase (2020 – 2027 over 2014 – 2020) for HVDC cable.

The planned delivery of the XLCC CLV will support the Morocco – UK Power Project, the first client project, through the delivery of four 3,800km subsea HVDC cables from a wind and solar generation site in Morocco to the UK.

This press release can be read in full here.

XLCC Signs UK Steel Charter For New Export-Led Cable Industry

These are the first paragraphs.

XLCC signed the UK Steel Charter at an event in Parliament on 19 April 2022, alongside representatives from politics, business and the trade union movement.

XLCC will create a new export-led HVDC cable manufacturing industry for the UK, nearly doubling the world’s current production. It aims to support renewable energy projects with the first factory planned for Hunterston, Scotland. XLCC will deliver its first project for the Xlinks Morocco-UK Power Project, consisting of four 3,800km long subsea cables, with the first phase between 2025-2027 connecting wind and solar power generated in Morocco exclusively to the UK in Devon.

Signing the UK Steel Charter shows a commitment to supporting existing and future jobs within the sector and the supply chain. Along with strengthening UK-based business, sourcing steel locally will cut transport emissions and seek to support decarbonisation in a sector dedicated to finding ways to minimise environmental impact of steel use.

This press release can be read in full here.

I have a few thoughts.

You Wait For A Large Interconnector Project To Come Along And Then Two Arrive Holding Hands

This paragraph introduces the Morocco-UK Power Project.

The Xlinks Morocco-UK Power Project will be a new electricity generation facility entirely powered by solar and wind energy combined with a battery storage facility. Located in Morocco’s renewable energy rich region of Guelmim Oued Noun, it will cover an approximate area of 1,500km2 and will be connected exclusively to Great Britain via 3,800km HVDC sub-sea cables.

XLCC have this mission statement on their home page.

XLCC will establish a new, export-led, green industry in the UK: world class HVDC subsea cable manufacturing.

Our mission is to provide the connectivity required for renewable power to meet future global energy needs.

Xlinks Morocco-UK Power Project and XLCC appear to be made for each other.

In some ways it takes me back to the 1970s, where large oil and gas projects in the North Sea were paired with platform building in Scottish lochs.

There Are Several Interconnector Projects Under Development

We will see a lot of undersea interconnectors in the next few years.

  • Country-to-country interconnectors
  • Interconnectors along the coast of the UK.
  • Connections to offshore wind farms.

This capacity, with a ship to lay it, is being created at the right time.

Icelink

Icelink is a proposed interconnector between Iceland and the UK.

  • It would be up to 1200 km long.
  • It would have a capacity of around 1 GW

XLCC could spur the development of this project.

Floating Wind Farms Hundreds Of Miles Out To Sea

The developer of a floating wind farm, say a hundred miles out to sea, is not going to develop it, if there isn’t a secure supply of cable.

Where Will Finance Come From?

Wind farms have proven to be good investments for finance giants such as Aviva.

See World’s Largest Wind Farm Attracts Huge Backing From Insurance Giant, for Aviva’s philosophy.

As mathematical modelling for electrical systems get better, the estimates of the finance needed and the returns to be made, will indicate whether these mega-projects can be funded.

It was done with North Sea oil and gas and it can be done with offshore wind power and its interconnectors.

In The Times on the 4th of July 2022, there is this article, which is entitled Schroders Chief Buzzing To Take Finance Offshore Wind Farms.

It is a must-read!

Conclusion

XLCC and its cable factory will spur the expansion of zero-carbon electricity in the UK.

July 3, 2022 Posted by | Energy | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Octopus Energy On Xlinks

Today, Octopus Energy published a web page, which is entitled Backing Cheaper, Greener Energy Globally, giving more details of the Xlinks project.

I first wrote about the tie-up between Octopus Energy and Xlinks in Xlinks Welcomes New Investor Octopus Energy In Providing Cheap Green Power To Over 7 Million Homes.

Points made in the page on the Octopus web page include.

  • The project will cover over 570 square miles in Morocco with 7GW of solar and 3.5GW of wind generation alongside a 20GWh battery storage facility.
  • This green energy powerhouse will be connected to the UK via 2,361 miles of HVDC subsea cables.
  • The cables will be built with British steel in a new factory in Hunterton, Scotland.
  • It also appears that the site of the project has been chosen to optimise energy collection.

This project appears to be excellently-thought out to bring large benefits to all stakeholders.

June 29, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , , , , | 7 Comments

Xlinks Welcomes New Investor Octopus Energy In Providing Cheap Green Power To Over 7 Million Homes

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from Xlinks.

These are the first three paragraphs.

Xlinks is pleased to announce a financial and strategic partnership with energy tech pioneer Octopus Energy Group.

The Morocco – UK Power Project will speed up the UK’s transition to net zero by laying four 3,800km-long subsea cables to connect a huge renewable energy farm in the Moroccan desert with Devon in South West England. Morocco is setting its sights on becoming a world leader in solar energy, already boasting some of the world’s largest solar arrays, and meeting two-fifths of its electricity demand with renewables. There will be huge economic benefits to both countries involved, with Xlinks bringing green energy and engineering jobs to both the UK and Morocco.

The project will diversify UK supply routes and boost energy security through the supply of 3.6 GW of reliable, clean power to the UK for an average of 20 hours a day, enough green energy to power about 7 million homes.

Note.

  1. The cables will be nearly 2,400 miles
  2. It is scheduled to be operational in 2027.
  3. Xlinks is expected to deliver power at £48/MWh, which is comparable with offshore wind.
  4. Wikipedia talks of a Hinkley Point C strike price of £92.50/MWh (in 2012 prices).
  5. Greg Jackson, founder of Octopus Energy Group, is also a personal investor in the project.
  6. Greg Jackson is interviewed in this article in today’s Sunday Times.

I wrote more about this project in Moroccan Solar-Plus-Wind To Be Linked To GB In ‘Ground-Breaking’ Xlinks Project.

Conclusion

This mega-project could be approaching the point, where the starting gun is fired.

 

May 15, 2022 Posted by | Energy | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Could The Morocco-UK Power Project Be Developed Into A Western Europe And Africa Interconnector?

This page on the Xlinks web site, describes the Morocco-UK Power Project, which is proposed to generate solar and wind power in Morocco and deliver it to the UK.

  • The plan envisages 10.5 GW of electricity being generated.
  • There will be a 5GW/20GWh battery in Morocco.
  • They will export 3.6 GW of electricity to the UK for at least twenty hours per day.
  • The electricity will be exported to the UK by an Interconnector that skirts to the West of Spain, Portugal and France.
  • The interconnector will be 3,800 kilometres long.

I described the project in detail in Moroccan Solar-Plus-Wind To Be Linked To GB In ‘Ground-Breaking’ Xlinks Project.

This Google Map shows Western Europe And North Africa.

Note.

  1. The light blue of the Continental Shelf
  2. The darker blue of deeper water.
  3. The Southern end of the Morocco and the UK interconnector will at Guelmim Oued Noun in the South of Morocco, which is indicated by the red arrow.
  4. The UK end of the cable will be at Alverdiscott between Barnstaple and Bideford in North Devon.
  5. Southern Morocco and Algeria look to be mainly in the Sahara Desert.

If we look at the route of the cable, it connects a lot of possible renewable energy sources.

  • Morocco – Solar and wind
  • Spain – Solar and wind
  • Portugal – Solar and wind
  • France – Nuclear, tidal and wind
  • UK – Nuclear and wind.

Could the UK and Morocco interconnector be developed into a bigger power project?

  • Solar and wind power from Algeria could be added.
  • Tidal power from a Severn Barrage could be added.
  • Connections could be added to Gibraltar, the Irish Republic and Wales.

I believe that there could be a large amount of electricity developed on the Western costs of Europe and Africa.

An interconnector would move it to where it is needed.

 

September 29, 2021 Posted by | Energy, World | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Moroccan Solar-Plus-Wind To Be Linked To GB In ‘Ground-Breaking’ Xlinks Project

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Current News.

This is the first paragraph.

New solar and wind under development in Morocco is to be linked with Britain, with developer Xlinks also seeking to develop a cable manufacturing industry.

It looks to be a very challenging project.

  • The HVDC cable will be 3,800 km long.
  • The plan envisages 10.5 GW of electricity being generated.
  • There will be a 5GW/20GWh battery in Morocco.
  • They will export 3.6 GW of electricity to the UK for at least twenty hours per day.
  • The electricity will be exported to the UK by a cable that skirts to the West of Spain, Portugal and France.
  • The UK end of the cable will be at Alverdiscott in Devon.

All except the last are pushing current technology to the limit.

There is more information on the Morocco-UK Power Project page on the Xlinks web site.

  • The company claims, that it can supply renewable energy, that acts like baseload power.
  • When complete, it could supply eight percent of the UK’s energy needs.

These are my thoughts.

The 3,800 km. HVDC Link

This paragraph on the project web page describes the HVDC link.

Four cables, each 3,800km long form the twin 1.8GW HVDC subsea cable systems that will follow the shallow water route from the Moroccan site to a grid location in Great Britain, passing Spain, Portugal, and France.

It appears that would be 15200 kilometres of cable.

The longest HVDC link in the world is 2375 km. It’s overland and it’s in Brazil.

I can’t think otherwise, than that this will be a very challenging part of the project.

This Google map shows the area of Morocco, where the energy will be generated.

Note.

  1. Guelmim Oued Noun is outlined in red.
  2. The Canary Islands are just off the map to the West.

At least the project will be able to have convenient access to the sea.

This second Google Map shows the <Moroccan, Portuguese and Spanish coasts from Guelmim Oued Noun to the Bay of Biscay.

Note.

  1. The light blue of the Continental Shelf
  2. The darker blue of deeper water.
  3. Guelmim Oued Noun is outlined in red.
  4. The Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean to the West of Guelmim Oued Noun.
  5. Could the cable bring power to Gibraltar?
  6. There are other large cities on the route in Morocco, Portugal and Spain.

This third Google Map shows the Bay of Biscay.

Note.

  1. The light blue of the Continental Shelf
  2. The darker blue of deeper water.
  3. There are a series of islands off the Spanish and French coasts.
  4. Could these islands be used as stepping stones for the cable?

This fourth Google Map shows the Western Approaches to the UK.

Note that the prominent red arrow indicates Alverdiscott, where cable connects to the UK National Grid.

This fifth Google Map shows Alverdiscott to Lundy Island.

 

Alverdiscott substation is indicated by the red arrow.

 

This sixth Google Map shows the Alverdiscott substation in relation to the town of Bideford.

Note.

  1. Bideford is in the North-West corner of the map.
  2. The red arrow indicates the Alverdiscott substation.
  3. The River Torridge runs through the town of Bideford.

Could the river be used to bring the cables from Morocco to the substation?

This seventh Google Map shows the Alverdiscott substation

Note the solar farm to the South of the substation.

HVDC Cable

The article also says that they may be building their own cable-manufacturing facility. Does this indicate that there is a shortage of HVDC cable?

Judging by the number of proposed interconnectors proposed for UK waters, it might be a prudent move to improve cable-manufacturing capacity.

10.5 GW Of Zero-Carbon Electricity

This sentence on the project web page describes the power generation.

This “first of a kind” project will generate 10.5GW of zero carbon electricity from the sun and wind to deliver 3.6GW of reliable energy for an average of 20+ hours a day.

It appears that they will be providing a baseload of 3.6 GW to the UK for over twenty hours per day.

Consider.

  • Hinckley Point C has an output of 3.2 GW.
  • As I write this around midnight, the UK is generating 22.2 GW of electricity.

This paragraph from their web site describes the advantages of Morocco.

Most importantly, Morocco benefits from ideal solar and wind resources, required to develop renewable projects that could guarantee suitable power production throughout the year. It has the third highest Global Horizontal Irradiance (GHI) in North Africa, which is 20% greater than Spain’s GHI and over twice that of the UK. Furthermore, the shortest winter day still offers more than 10 hours of sunlight. This helps in providing production profiles that address the needs of the UK power market, especially during periods of low offshore wind production.

It is not a small power station in the wrong place.

The 5GW/20GWh Battery

That is a massive battery.

The world’s largest lithium-ion battery is Gateway Energy Storage in California. It has a capacity of 250 megawatts for one hour.

The proposed battery in Morocco is eighty times as large.

If I was choosing a battery for this application, I believe the only one that has been demonstrated and might work is Highview Power’s CRYOBattery.

I wrote about Highview’s similar type of application to Morocco in Chile in The Power Of Solar With A Large Battery.

But that installation only will only have storage of half a GWh.

But I believe Highview and their partner; MAN Energy Solutions can do it.

Conclusion

I wish the company well, but I have a feeling that there’s a chance, that this will join the large pile of dead mega-projects.

But I do feel that the solar and wind power station in Morocco will be developed.

And like the project in Chile it will have a large Highview CRYOBattery.

 

 

 

September 26, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , , , , , , | 41 Comments