Planners double capacity of UK-France Channel tunnel power cable

LONDON, March 12 Tue Mar 12, 2013 12:17pm EDT

LONDON, March 12 (Reuters) - Developers plan to double to 1,000 megawatts the capacity of a proposed cable connecting the French and British power markets through the Channel tunnel.

The increase will push the start of operations of ElecLink to the fourth quarter of 2016 from 2015, Simon Ludlam, executive vice-chairman of the project, said on Tuesday.

France's Eurotunnel, which operates the subsea tunnel, and UK-based fund manager Star Capital Partners set up a joint venture in May 2011 to develop the 75-km long cable.

"Subsequent to our discussions with RTE and National Grid, we will increase capacity to 1,000 megawatts," he said, adding he expected to reach financial close towards the end of the year.

Ludlam said the venture was the first example of private companies investing in a power interconnector without the involvement of a grid operator.

France and Britain are already connected via a 2,000-MW subsea power cable that has been operating since the 1980s.

Britain sees building interconnections with neighbouring countries as a way to manage fluctuating renewable energy production and is considering laying other cables to Norway, Belgium and Denmark. (Reporting by Karolin Schaps; Editing by David Cowell)