Cross-border France-Spain powerline

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A 40-mile powerline crossing the border between Spain and France has officially been inaugurated. The line, called the Santa Llogaia-Baixas link, is meant to increase energy ties between the different nations in the European Union (EU).

The Onya River, which runs through Gerona, Spain, where the grid line begins. Credit: Filip Maljkovic/Wikimedia Commons

The European Commission said the connection will increase the capacity between France and Spain from 1,400 megawatts (MW) to 2,800 MW. According to Bloomberg, the EU contributed $290 million toward the project — which ended up costing a little less than $800 million. To build the powerline, French grid operator RTE and Spanish grid operator Red Electrica Corp. formed Inelfe. The powerline crosses the Pyrenees mountain range, as well as running underground.

The new powerline is another step toward the EU’s goal of 10 percent power from each of its 28 member nations crossing borders — by 2020. Before now, companies in the area have not been able to participate in the EU internal power market, because connectivity between France and Spain was only able to reach 3 percent of peak demand.

“The very low level of interconnection capacity is a major obstacle for the creation of a regional electricity market in southwest Europe,” the commission told Bloomberg.

According to Reuters, peak demand in Spain is about two hours later than in France, and the new powerline will allow energy to be transported back and forth based on need. France will import excess power from Spain in the winter and will export nuclear back to Spain the other three months. The new powerline will also allow Spain to export wind to the rest of Europe, and lower costs by eliminating the bottleneck between the two countries.

“The increased interconnection capacity will allow renewable electricity to flow more freely in the European market,” EU Energy and Climate Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said.

Testing on the powerline will happen this month, with full deployment expected in June. The connection will raise Spain’s interconnection capacity from 3 percent to 6 percent. A second, underwater line is expected to raise the French-Spanish connection even further — to 5,000 MW — but that line is not expected to be completed until at least 2020.

For more:
– read this article
– read this report

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