A key power cable linking Britain and France has been used at full capacity for the first time since a fire shut it down in 2021.
The cable’s return is a boon to the countries’ power supplies in the middle of winter, even though the season has so far seen relatively mild weather and demand curbs eased pressure on their strained grids. The tightest days for their power systems have seen balancing prices spike to records as well as households dial down demand.
The IFA-1 interconnector imported at about 2,000 megawatts on Saturday and exported at that level on Monday morning, data compiled by Bloomberg show. A fire at a converter station in Kent, southeast England, put the cable out of action in September 2021, just as gas and power prices started surging in the early stages of Europe’s energy crisis.
Along with IFA-2, the cable is a key means of sending power back and forth between France and Britain, often helping companies sell electricity at higher prices than in their domestic markets. Britain became a net exporter of power for the first time on record last year after lengthy outages for France’s nuclear fleet increased import needs there.
Even with the cable partly offline, the UK and its neighbors exchanged record volumes of power for the month of January, according to Britain’s grid operator. Some 2.6 terawatt-hours has been transported across National Grid Plc’s five subsea cables so far this year, about 12% more than the same period last year.