A major international project which will see electricity flowing between France, the Channel Islands and the UK has come a step closer with fresh surveys taking place off East Devon and Alderney.
The team behind the FAB Link scheme is planning to lay two pairs of electricity cables between the Cherbourg peninsula in Normandy in northern France, and Devon. This interconnector, as it is called, will be able to carry power generated in Britain to France and vice versa, helping to ensure security of supply in the UK and continental Europe.
In addition, it will route via the Channel Island of Alderney in order to pick up electricity which will be generated by a huge tidal stream power plant that is proposed in the island’s waters.
FAB Link has been designated a key energy project by the European Union, and last year won the approval of Ofgem, Britain’s energy regulator. The French partner is RTE, Réseau de transport d’électricité, that country’s national grid company.
Survey work at the proposed ‘landing site’ at Budleigh Salterton beach in East Devon has been taking place this week following initial work in the summer of 2015.
Declan Gaudion, of Alderney Renewable Energy, one of the partners in the FAB Link project, said: “Alderney has some of the strongest tides in the world, and we intend to harness their power, which when fully developed, will generate enough electricity to power at least 1.8 million homes.
“The FAB Link interconnector will enable us to export this clean, reliable and renewable energy to consumers in Britain and France and beyond.”
Chris Jenner, from FAB Link, said: “The aim of our interconnector is to provide extra security of supply to both Britain and France, while at the same time helping to keep down prices for the consumer.
“Once the tidal power from Alderney is online, we’ll also be able to provide very low carbon electricity to the people of Britain and the rest of Europe.
“Here in the UK we’re looking into the feasibility of bringing our undersea cables ashore at Budleigh Salterton. We’re currently analysing data from engineering and environmental offshore surveys of the planned undersea route just off the coast.
“The response from all the local stakeholders we’ve started discussions with has been very positive.
“Once we have laid the cables underground we will reinstate the land so that it looks just as it did before we arrived. Nevertheless, we aim to hold a series of meetings with interested members of the public in the summer so we can hear what people think about our proposals.”
Gro Wæraas de Saint Martin, from RTE in France, said: “The project has won the approval of the Commission of the European Union because it will greatly increase energy security on both sides of the English Channel and beyond. Linking national grids in this way means that as more renewable energy sources are developed across Europe, the benefits of low-carbon power can be enjoyed by as many consumers as possible.”