Moroccan solar and wind will be linked to GB in a “revolutionary” Xlinks project

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Simon Morrish of Xlinks, Paddy Padmanathan and Sir Dave Lewis. Image: Xlinks.

The new solar and wind power being developed in Morocco is to be linked to Britain, with developer Xlinks also looking to develop a cable manufacturing industry.

The Morocco-UK power project – unveiled today (September 26) – is expected to have a total capacity of 10.5 GW, with an export capacity of 3.6 GW for an average of over 20 hours per day . The site will also include a 5 GW / 20 GWh battery installation to help create a near constant source of flexible and predictable renewable energy.

The electricity produced by the site – which is to be located in Morocco’s Guelmim Oued Noun region – is to be exported to Britain via four 3,800 km high voltage direct current (HVDC) submarine cables.

These must be laid in the waters along the coasts of Portugal, Spain and France before being connected to the British electricity grid via two 1.8 GW connections at Alverdiscott in Devon.

Xlinks said using the Contracts for Difference (CfD) program would make the project a source of income rather than cost, providing power at £ 48 / MWh CfD, below BEIS ‘central forecast for prices of energy.

In the 2019 CfD auction, offshore wind hit a record low of £ 39.65 / MWh, with 6 GW of new offshore wind capacity securing contracts at variable prices. The next round is due to open in December, with solar and onshore wind also eligible to compete.

The Morocco-UK power project is currently making progress in obtaining the required regulatory and government approvals in Morocco.

Xlinks also praises the impact the project is expected to have on green jobs in the UK, with plans to create an export-oriented cable manufacturing industry in Britain through the cable supply system company dedicated XLCC. This is expected to provide around 1,350 new permanent regional jobs by 2024, when production is expected to start.

It will support the manufacture of the HVDC interconnect necessary for the project, although Xlinks added that international growth due to increasing global demand for interconnects will result in long-term orders to keep HVDC production lines at full capacity for at least the next 20 years.

Agreements for factories located in Hunterston and Port Talbot have already been signed and applications for building permits are pending. Discussions are also underway for a third plant in the northeast.

The need for new green jobs was underscored by the Green Jobs Task Force, which launched a call to action in July to support the creation of two million skilled jobs by 2030.

Jobs will also be created in Morocco, with the project leading to the production of locally manufactured solar and wind components as well as local civil engineering works. Nearly 10,000 jobs will be created during construction, 2,000 of which will become permanent.

This is Xlinks’ first project, with the best team in the business including Simon Morrish, Founder of Levitate Capital as CEO, Paddy Padmanathan, President and CEO of ACWA Power as Vice President and Former CEO of Tesco, Sir Dave Lewis as Executive Chairman. In Morocco, Xlinks is chaired by Dayae Oudghiri.

“The project will harness extremely reliable solar and wind power in Morocco to provide a vital balancing of core power and enable our own offshore wind ambitions, while strengthening the Moroccan renewable energy industry,” Lewis said.

Morocco is targeting 52% of its installed capacity to be renewable energy by 2030, by organizing a 400 MW solar photovoltaic tender last year.


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