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March 21, 2024

UK To Import Electricity From US Via Transatlantic Power Cable

A huge upgrade for the UK's energy infastrucutre, in the form of a submarine power cable across the Atlantic from the US to the UK.

What is a Submarine Power Cable?

A submarine power cable is a type of long-distance cable constructed for the purpose of transmitting electrical power beneath large bodies of water such as the Ataltic ocean.

These cables are specifically designed to be laid on the seabed between land stations, islands, or offshore platforms. They are heavily insulated and protected to withstand the harsh conditions of the underwater environment, such as saltwater corrosion, strong currents, and abrasion from rocks and sand on the ocean floor.

Submarine power cables play a critical role in connecting electrical grids across different countries, and in supplying electricity to remote areas and offshore facilities, such as oil rigs and wind farms.

What is the plan for the Transatlantic Cable?

The UK could import electricity from the US using a transatlantic power cable under new plans to improve the country’s energy security. The plans could also help to meet the UK’s growing demand for electricity while helping to Net Zero targets by reducing carbon emissions.

Under the proposed plans, a giant 3,500-mile-long submarine power cable will run 11,000 feet beneath the Atlantic Ocean. It will connect Britain’s electricity grid with renewable energy sources in the US, such as wind and solar farms.

Those behind the ambitious scheme claim technological advances in submarine cable could allow the creation of a global “intercontinental grid”, allowing suppliers to take advantage of the differences in peak demand in different time zones.

According to reports the cable could carry the equivalent power of several nuclear power stations to the UK.

The idea has been proposed as the UK seeks to diversify its energy supply and reduce reliance on domestic resources. It is also in line with Britain's commitment to achieve Net Zero targets and reduce carbon emissions, supporting the transition towards a greener and more sustainable energy future.

Additionally, the transatlantic power cable could enhance the resilience of the UK's energy infrastructure by providing access to a diverse range of energy sources. Mitigating any risks associated with supply disruptions and fluctuations in power generation.

While the proposal is still in its early stages, it represents a significant step towards strengthening the UK's energy resilience and accelerating its transition to a low-carbon economy.

As discussions progress, stakeholders will continue to explore the feasibility and potential benefits of the transatlantic power cable, paving the way for closer energy ties between the UK and the US.

Existing long-distace subsea cables

These proposed plans are one of several long-distance subsea cable projects on the table. One of the more advanced is the Xlinks project to lay four cables between the UK and a network of wind and solar farms spread across the Sahara desert in Morocco. If successful the scheme could deliver 3.6 gigawatts (GW) of electricity to the UK’s national grid or around eight per cent of total demand.

Another, on the other side of the world, will see a cable laid from wind farms in Australia’s Northern Territory to Singapore, supplying the city-state with low-carbon power. Saudi Arabia and India are also looking at plans to link the power grids of both countries via subsea cables.

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