Overseas Electricity Interconnection

12 Feb 2018 12:59 PM

Electricity markets in the UK, Ireland and continental Europe are physically linked by ‘interconnector’ cables. These benefit energy system operators and consumers by reducing prices. They can also help integrate renewable electricity and ensure security of supply. This note discusses these benefits, proposals for future increases in interconnection and the potential effects of Brexit.

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Electricity is imported into and exported from the Great Britain (GB) market via undersea cables connecting transmission networks in GB to the rest of Europe. GB currently imports more than it exports. Net imports in 2016 were equivalent to 6% of and this is expected to increase in future as a number of interconnector projects are under development. Government and industry experts agree that increasing levels of interconnection across the UK can benefit consumers, markets and systems in the UK and EU.

As the UK is a member of the EU Internal Energy Market (IEM), interconnectors are currently regulated in accordance with EU law. It is possible that the UK could leave the IEM as part of the EU withdrawal process. Doing so could make electricity trading less efficient, increasing operator and consumer costs.

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POSTnotes are based on literature reviews and interviews with a range of stakeholders and are externally peer reviewed. POST would like to thank interviewees and peer reviewers for kindly giving up their time during the preparation of this briefing, including:

denotes people who acted as external reviewers of the briefing.