Work started on a new £490m power supply network connecting the UK and France.

UK Energy Minister Jesse Norman laid the foundation stone for the ElecLink electricity connection, capable of powering up to 2 million homes.

The interconnector link will be laid through Channel Tunnel and it will enable transmission of 1GW of power.

Contract for the installation of the interconnector link has been awarded to a consortium of Balfour Beatty and Prysmian Group by Eleclink. The cost of the contract is estimated to be €219m (£184m).

Realisation of the project could support the development of a ‘super grid’ in Europe, a future potential project, which is estimated to reduce the cost of generating and supplying power in the entire region by sharing those costs.

A future super grid is also expected to include more renewable sources for power generation and reduce the reliability on imported fossil fuels.

For the contract, Belfour Beatty’s work which includes the installation of two 50km cables running through the North Tunnel and connecting them to converter stations in Northern France and Kent and it has been valued at €140m (£118m).

On the other hand, Prysmian’s work will involve in the design, supply, installation and commissioning of the interconnection and has been valued at €79m (£67m).

Balfour Beatty Power Transmission and Distribution managing director Ian Currie said: “Balfour Beatty’s expertise as an international infrastructure group has enabled us to create innovative solutions to fulfil the requirements of this project. 

“As global leaders we have been trusted with the first ever installation of a High Voltage Direct Current interconnector in a live rail tunnel environment. We will draw on our extensive experience of cable tunnel engineering projects, including the London Power Tunnels electricity superhighway, to deliver the project successfully.”

Prysmian Group Energy Projects senior vice president Massimo Battaini said: “The development of power transmission interconnections is of paramount importance in Europe and we are proud to make our technologies and experience available for the realisation of a project with such a high strategic value.” 

The interconnection project is expected to generate about 300 jobs during the construction phase.

Image: UK, France begin construction of interconnector link through the Channel Tunnel. Photo: Courtesy of Prysmian S.p.A.