Interconnectors are not only great for National Grid, they improve energy security, reliability, access to renewables and increase market competition.
However, if there is one question I was asked at the start of the Nemo Link project more than most, it was ‘what would success look like?”
The answer is more to do with feelings rather than tangible assets – things that people can see and touch – the ‘how’ as opposed to the ‘what’.
If I tackle the ‘what’ first:
- Nemo Link was approved in February 2015, we signed the joint venture agreement with Elia (our partner) and awarded over €520m worth of contracts on 5 June 2015.
- At the time of writing, we remain on target to be operational in the first quarter of 2019.
- The project was approved at €702.8m and the latest forecast is €628m.
- We have built a strong and trusting relationship with Ofgem and are well on target to have over 99% of the construction capex accepted as part of our regulatory deal.
- The technologies for the converters and cable are world firsts, and the emphasis on design and factory assurance has proved vital in being able to commission and energise successfully.
- To lay the two 140km cables, we arranged for 34 sea mines and 14 land mines to be safely detonated by the French, Belgian, Royal Navy and army disposal squads.
- In Belgium, our partner commissioned over €220m of new substations and overhead line on their transmission system to accommodate the 1GW of power from Nemo.
- In the UK, our colleagues in Capital Delivery did a truly magnificent job in commissioning new substations and 20km of new overhead line.
- During more than 3.5m hours of work, we experienced one lost time injury (LTI) when an installation fitter broke a bone in the tip of his finger. I can just about reconcile myself to one LTI, when I consider the construction risks we dealt with.
I have left the safety statistic until last as I think it answers the ‘how’ part.
I am paid to deliver the project on time and to budget, but success was only valid if the team could look back and be certain we had done all we could to:
- keep our people as safe and healthy as possible
- look back with pride at the legacy we left regarding care for communities and the environment
- promote a culture where we could say ‘it was one of the best things we’d done in our careers, we looked out for each other and made sure no-one felt alone or uncared for’.
I believe Nemo Link was a very successful project. My pride in the achievements of our suppliers, contractors and Elia colleagues is profound, but nothing compared to the National Grid people on the team. They have all been fantastic and to have spent three years or so working with them has been an honour and a privilege.
I now look forward to the business going operational next year.
Project Director, Nemo Link