Morocco-UK electrical energy hyperlink: Sluggish talks with the British authorities

In a statement released this Monday, November 14th, Xlinks announces the conclusion of a strategic and financial partnership with the German company Con Energywho made a multi-million pound investment in the Xlinks project.

The latter is already investing in several infrastructure projects and sustainable energy supply, including companies such as Wayve or the American charging station specialist Chargepoint. This is the second strategic partnership after the one concluded last May with Octopus.

The project continues to develop and continues to attract investors. On the other hand, discussions with the British government, which is the final buyer of future energy produced, seem to take a long time.

Alongside the announcement of the new investor, Dave Lewis, chief executive of Xlinks, lamented “frustratingly slow” talks with the British government in the newspaper’s columns. The times in its edition this Monday, November 14th.

Negotiations that take time

He said that Xlinks has been discussing the project with the UK government for a year.

“The main thing for us is getting a timeline from the government so we can plan the project around it. There will come a time, meaning if the UK government can’t decide, as a company we’ll have to think about the alternatives that exist, because there is a huge interest in supplying this energy to other countries”, reports the newspaper The times🇧🇷

The media also advances the response of a UK government spokesperson who says: “We continue to support more renewable energy projects and are in the early stages of discussions with Xlinks on their proposal.”

“Many countries have realized the opportunity that exists for direct long-distance connections to renewable energy sources, which are not just beyond their borders. Some countries in Europe are actively pursuing the kind of project that we are proposing to the British government. question is: does the British government want to be at the forefront of what is happening here?”, advances the executive chairman of Xlinks.

The Xlinks project is bold. The aim is to build 7 gigawatts of solar capacity, 3.5 gigawatts of wind power and 5 gigawatts of battery storage in the Guelmim-Oued Noun region of Morocco. It then intends to transport this produced energy directly, without passing through the Moroccan national grid, to the United Kingdom via a maritime link equipped with two high voltage direct current (HVDC) cables.

In his statements to the newspaper The times, the president of Xlinks is not content to explain that he could study other alternatives if the United Kingdom were not sufficiently reactive; he also exposes his arguments.

Xlink’s arguments

Dave Lewis explains that the project must reliably deliver approximately 3.6 gigawatts of electricity – enough to power seven million homes in the UK – to “on average just over 20 hours a day”🇧🇷

Xlinks claims that can complete the project by 2030 if it gets a government contract next year, ensuring that consumers pay a fixed price of £48 (British pounds) per megawatt hour (MWh).

This tariff is cheaper than the £92.50/MWh Hinkley Point C nuclear deal, but higher than the £37.35/MWh agreed for the UK’s latest offshore wind projects.

The times question: Why should Britain pay more to import wind and solar energy from abroad rather than building more generation at home? Dave Lewis responds. “Geographically, the North Sea is quite small. When the wind doesn’t blow, the wind doesn’t blow. The intermittent effect of renewable energies in our geography is therefore a problem. The advantage of bringing energy from Morocco is that there is no flashing effect. It’s available every day.”

Separately, Dave Lewis acknowledged that recent attacks on Russia’s Nord Stream gas pipelines have raised concerns about the resilience of subsea power infrastructure, but he said this project was safer. 🇧🇷[Nord Stream] lay at the bottom of the sea, was not buried. Xlinks aims to have two cables buried between 80 centimeters and three meters below the sea floor at a typical depth of 700 meters. No one can give you absolute certainty that any part of the UK’s energy infrastructure is completely impervious to nefarious attacks,” Lewis said.

On funding, Lewis explained that the project will require £18bn, equivalent to 226bn dirhams (up from £16bn when the project was announced a year ago), of which around half dedicated to cables.

He says that investment envelope will be “easy” to get from private investors if the company gets a government contract guaranteeing consumers pay a fixed price for the electricity it produces.

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