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Fri May 07 2021

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Balfour Beatty JV wins £185m Channel Tunnel powerline job

24 Feb 17 A Balfour Beatty joint venture has won a £185m contract to install a huge power cable through the Channel Tunnel.

This will be the first ever installation of an HVDC interconnector in a live rail tunnel
This will be the first ever installation of an HVDC interconnector in a live rail tunnel

The ElecLink high voltage direct current (HVDC) interconnector is designed to enhance both the UK and France’s energy capacity and security, helping both countries to meet their energy needs and potentially leading to cheaper fuel costs.

The ElecLink interconnector will have a total length of 69 km and will link the RTE (Réseau de Transport d’Électricité) substation at Les Mandarins, France, with the National Grid (NGET) substation in Sellindge, UK.

It will be the world’s first installation of an HVDC interconnector in a live rail tunnel environment.

The installation of the HVDC interconnector will involve laying two 50km cables through the North tunnel and connecting them to converter stations in northern France and Kent.

ElecLink, a subsidiary of Eurotunnel, has awarded the €219m cabling contract for the project to Balfour Beatty in a consortium with Italian telecoms firm Prysmian Group. Balfour Beatty/Prysmian’s contract is for the fabrication and installation of the DC cables inside the Channel Tunnel and the underground AC cables on the UK side. The contract is worth approximately £120m to Balfour Beatty and £65m to Prysmian.

RTE, the transmission system operator of France, will install the underground AC cables in France.

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Siemens has been contracted to construct the converter stations in both UK and France.

Prysmian Group will be responsible for the design and manufacture of the 320kV cabling and jointing services. It will make the cables at its factory in Gron, France.

Balfour Beatty will use offsite jointing facilities in Calais and Folkestone to assemble 2.5km sections of cable and computer modelling to model the build.

The cable will have a 1GW capacity, providing enough energy to power more than 1.65 million households per year. The project could support the development of Europe’s ‘super grid’, a future potential project that would lower the cost of power by allowing the entire region to share costs of creating and distributing energy. This would also lay the framework to increase significantly the use of renewable energy and decrease reliance on imported fuels.

The project comprises of a ± 320 kV extruded HVDC underground cable turnkey system that includes the engineering, production and installation of one HVDC symmetrical monopole circuit along a 51km route length to be installed into the Channel Tunnel. The HVDC cable will connect the future converter stations located in Peuplingues and Folkestone. As part of the complete system Prysmian will also supply and install underground cables for the HVAC link to the Sellindge substation in Kent.

Jacques Gounon, chairman and chief executive of Groupe Eurotunnel, said: “ElecLink further underlines how important the Channel Tunnel is to Britain and France. Not only is it a vital transport link, it is set to play an instrumental part in the supply of electricity to the UK, France and continental Europe. With the debate over the future of energy security brought into focus recently, ElecLink delivers a smart and environmentally friendly way to secure the electricity supply. We are proud to be inaugurating ElecLink, this great project, which will significantly benefit the economies and consumers in both France and the United Kingdom.”

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