An electrical interconnection in the Channel Tunnel

The project is starting to see the end of the “channel”. To transport electricity between France and the United Kingdom, an interconnector has planned to take the same route as the Eurostar trains, inside the Channel tunnel. The test phase began on the night of Tuesday August 31 to Wednesday 1is September. Commissioning expected in mid-2022. This private project, ElecLink, has a transmission capacity of 1 gigawatt (GW). It is supposed to be added to two structures already operational between the two countries, elsewhere in the Channel, outside the railway complex: one since 1986 (2 GW), the other since the beginning of the current year ( 1 GW).

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Passengers will not have the leisure, however, to see the future connection during their submarine crossing – that going from England to France. In fact, it is already impossible for them to observe the aquatic depths during this journey of nearly 38 kilometers.

Between the cables and the trains, barely “About three meters” gap, explains Yann Leriche, Managing Director of the European company Getlink (formerly the Eurotunnel group). Located in Paris, the tunnel concessionaire is financing the current construction, at an estimated cost of some 665 million euros.

“Net exporter of electricity”

The idea comes to the surface, so to speak, after many years. As early as 1986, eight years before the tunnel was inaugurated, the French and British governments “Possible use other than that” trains. “In particular for energy transport”, specifies the treaty, signed in the Anglican cathedral of Canterbury.

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Goods, trucks and cars are already in transit today. Significant financial difficulties had, however, dissuaded the concessionaire from embarking on an electrical interconnection until then.

“France has a driving position due to its location in Western Europe and its nuclear fleet” Christophe Bouneau, professor of economic history

It was not until 2011 for the presentation of the ElecLink subsidiary, and 2016 for the start of work. All this before the Brexit of 2020 and the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union. “The impact of Brexit was relatively weak, it was not fundamental in the conduct of the project, it was even a fairly secondary subject”, assures Mr. Leriche. With this sentence, slogan style: “We continue to link France and the UK in a lasting way. “

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