A power interconnector, which would, at 1,000 KM be the world’s longest, is facing delays as a result of the decision by Britain to withdraw from the European Union.

The head of Icelandic utility Landsvirkjun has told Reuters in an interview that Brexit is impacting on the status of the 1 GW link which will bring geothermal power from Iceland to UK.

Meanwhile the owners of the ElecLink interconnector project have told Power Engineering International they don’t anticipate any problems arising from the political upheaval.
The UK and Icelandic governments agreed last year to jointly study building the (EUR3.5bn), 1,000-kilometre-long IceLink cable that would power some 1.6 million UK homes.

“In the long-term there is no change in their interest (in importing power from Iceland), but it (Brexit) will definitely delay it, because they have to focus on other things now,” Landsvirkjun boss Hordur Arnarson told Reuters.

“We need similar support to that for Hinkley Point C,” Arnarson said, referring to a price guarantee offered by the UK government for power to be produced by a planned nuclear power plant to be built by French firm EDF.

Britain’s dependence on imported power is set to rise towards 2020 as ageing coal and nuclear plants close.

National Grid said the company remained interested in the IceLink project, but said it required support from both governments.

By contrast the owners of the Eleclink project between Britain and France don’t see any complications arising for their Channel Tunnel interconnector despite growing political turmoil.

Eleclink aims to transmit surplus electricity between Britain and France through the Channel Tunnel. The high-voltage 1 GW interconnector was purchased in full by Groupe Eurotunnel in August.

John Keeffe, spokesperson for Eurotunnel told Power Engineering International, “Very simply there is no negative impact from Brexit for the Eleclink project.”

Keeffe said that on the contrary, it reinforced the project’s significance.

“If anything it’s a positive position because the project is all about energy security. Ensuring the UK has energy supplies for the long term is a positive. On top of that there is also the environmental benefit it brings, the power supply it provides at the right moment when there is a potential negative difference between supply and demand in the UK.”

Groupe Eurotunnel SE, which operates the two rail tunnels between France and England, took full ownership of the project when they bought out their partners Star Capital for $84.7m in August.

Construction of the project, expected to require more than $543m (EUR500m) in investment, must start before August 2017 in order for the cable to begin operating by July 31, 2020.

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