- Xlinks is working on a 10.5 GW solar and wind energy Morocco-UK Power Project, with 20 GWh/5 GW storage capacity
- Located in Guelmim Oued Noun region in Morocco, it should supply clean energy from Morocco to Great Britain via HVDC sub-sea cables
- Xlinks has secured an agreement with the UK’s National Grid for 2×1.8 GW grid connections in Devon
- The project is expected to start supplying clean energy to Great Britain from 2027 onward
Large scale solar and wind energy facilities with a combined 10.5 GW capacity in a solar rich region of Morocco could supply 3.6 GW of reliable and clean energy to Great Britain through sub-sea cables. It would be enough to provide ‘low-cost, clean power to over 7 million British homes by 2030’. This is the plan on which Xlinks is working.
The Morocco-UK Power Project is expected to cover around 1,500 km² area in Guelmim Oued Noun, a region in the south of Morocco, and is planned to be exclusively connected to Great Britain via a 3,800 km high-voltage direct current (HVDC) sub-sea cables to supply over 20 hours of electricity supply a day. It should account for 8% of Great Britain’s electricity needs on completion.
The solar part of the 10.5 GW project would have PV panels spread across 200 km² space. “Importantly, the solar panels will generate as much as five times more power from January to March than those in the UK, which will help to keep the lights on and homes warm in Britain throughout the coldest winter days,” states the company.
Along with solar panels and wind turbines, the project should also be equipped with an onsite 20 GWh/5 GW battery facility, designed to ensure a ‘dedicated, near-constant source of flexible and predictable clean energy for Britain’. It would provide ‘renewable energy that acts like baseload power’.
The subsea cable systems is planned to run from the site in Morocco to a grid location in Great Britain, passing through the water of Spain, Portugal and France. Currently, the project promoters have reached an agreement with National Grid for 2×1.8 GW connections at Alverdiscott in Devon, to start transmission by 2027. An HVDC technical feasibility study has been completed.
Through this project, Xlinks aims to create an export-led cable manufacturing industry in Britain, establishing a cable supply system company called XLCC. It is planned to have fabs in Hunterston and Port Talbot. Another fab is proposed to be located in the North East. It is expected to create 1,350 new, permanent UK manufacturing jobs by 2024, while fanning supply chain ecosystem.
What’s in for Morocco?
Xlinks estimates creation of around 10,000 local jobs , of which 2,000 would be permanent. It should encourage production of locally manufactured components, and support local industries for civil engineering works.
Xlinks is headed by Founder and CEO Simon Morrish who is part of the board along with former Tesla CEO Sir Dave Lewis and ACWA Power CEO and President Paddy Padmanathan. They believe this ‘first-of-its-kind’ project will demonstrate the technology and bring down the cost of building and financing similar remote renewable energy generation projects in the future.
According to the company, “Through the development of large-scale power infrastructure spanning land and seas, Xlinks aims to transmit reliable but flexible power from resource rich remote locations, where it can be most economically and sustainably generated at scale.”
Another large scale international renewable energy project that plans to use HVDC sub-sea cables for solar power generation is Sun Cable’s Australia-Asia PowerLink facility that aims to supply clean energy from Darwin in Australia to Singapore via Indonesian waters (see 17 GW Solar Farm For AAPL Project).