The speed and scale of renewables growth means we now need more flexible technologies that can help to reliably manage a far more volatile supply of energy.
Interconnectors are in many respects the perfect technology; because they enable flexible access to cheaper, low-carbon electricity from neighbouring markets.
We have calculated that, by 2030, around 90 per cent of the energy imported into Great Britain will be from zero carbon generation sources – such as wind, solar, hydro or nuclear. Interconnectors also strengthen security of supply by providing access to a much larger and more diverse mix of generation. This is strengthened even further through interconnector participation in the GB Capacity Market (CM).
In a recent report titled ‘Securely Connected’, energy consultancy FTI analysed the contribution of electricity interconnectors to the GB security of supply. The report concluded that the current de-rating methodology underestimates the contribution of interconnectors, which are highly likely to import when needed. The de-rating factor is a metric that aims to reflect the availability of each type of generation or interconnector during a time of system stress. For an interconnector, the key question is whether it will be importing to Great Britain.
Consumers pay more when interconnectors, which are among the lowest cost participants in the GB CM, are undervalued. FTI estimates that if 1GW of interconnector capacity was removed from the most recent four-year-ahead auction, consumers would have paid an additional £80 million through a higher clearing price.
The important role of electricity interconnectors was recently demonstrated in contributing to security of supply in both the UK and France. On Thursday 1 March 2018, the UK Gas System Operator issued a Gas Deficit warning, which caused several gas-fired power stations to reduce their output; thereby increasing GB power prices. The IFA (Interconnexion France-Angleterre) Interconnector – which had been supporting French security of supply earlier in the week – imported at near full capacity to GB for the remainder of the high-demand period.
IFA ended up delivering power to both the British and French markets when they most needed it, making the energy system more resilient than ever before.
Take a look at the ‘Securely Connected’ report summary to find out more about the contribution of electricity interconnectors to GB security of supply.