Home » UK Declares Morocco-UK Xlinks Green Energy Project of “National Significance”
Africa Europe featured Morocco News North Africa United Kingdom

UK Declares Morocco-UK Xlinks Green Energy Project of “National Significance”

Rabat – The $24.5 billion plan to harness solar and wind power from Morocco’s Southern region and transmit it to the UK via the world’s longest subsea cable has been officially recognized as a project of “national significance” by Claire Coutinho, the newly-appointed UK Energy Secretary, reports the Financial Times.

The designation is expected to streamline the planning and approval process for the project, which is expected to supply electricity to over 7 million homes in the UK, satisfying approximately 8% of the nation’s power needs.

The initiative, led by Xlinks with former Tesco CEO, Sir Dave Lewis, is making steady progress in Morocco’s Guelmim Oued Noun region, where a substantial portion of the energy will be generated. 

Under the plan, electricity will be transported via a 3,800-kilometer subsea cable stretching from the Sahara to the North Devon village of Alverdiscott, where it will be integrated into the UK’s national grid.

According to Lewis, the project will boast a remarkable generation capacity of 10.5 gigawatts, with 7GW originating from solar sources and 3.5GW from wind. 

Lewis emphasized the reliability of Morocco’s southern regions as a power source, stating: “The sun shines every day there, and the wind blows every evening.”

Despite the high budget required to fund the project, Lewis and Xlinks remain confident that the project can be completed without government subsidies or financial assistance. Lewis asserted that the initiative could be genuinely transformational for the UK’s energy landscape.

The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero echoed these sentiments in a statement, affirming that Energy Secretary Claire Coutinho believes the project could play a pivotal role in fulfilling the UK’s carbon emissions reduction commitments while ensuring a secure, reliable, and affordable energy supply for consumers.

One significant implication of the “national significance” designation is that the planning application for a converter station at Alverdiscott, essential for transferring power into the grid, will bypass the Torridge District Council in Devon and go directly to the government, the report explains. 

The streamlined approach is intended to provide certainty through a unified consenting process and fixed timescales.

For the project’s long-term viability, Xlinks must secure a contract with the UK government guaranteeing a fixed electricity price, referred to as a “contract for difference.” 

These contracts have been instrumental in supporting renewable energy projects in the UK, particularly in the offshore wind sector.

Xlinks is currently seeking a 25-year contract guaranteeing a price range of $68 to $78 per megawatt-hour (MWh) at 2012 prices, equivalent to approximately $94 to $106 per MWh at today’s rates. 

To meet the project’s cable requirements, a separate business called XLCC is set to construct a new factory in Hunterston, Ayrshire, focused on producing high-voltage cables capable of transmitting power over such distances.

Source : Morocco World News