The Heads of the French and Spanish Governments, Manuel Valls and Mariano Rajoy, inaugurated the electrical interconnection which will transmit power between the two countries. The project was developed by Inelfe (France-Spain ELectrical INterconnection), a company with equal ownership between Red Eléctrica de España S.A. (REE) and Réseau du Transport d’Électricité (RTE), the principal national grid operators in each of the two countries. The inauguration took place on the morning of Friday, February 20 in the town of Montesquieu-des-Albères on the French side of the border. José Gregorio Briz, SENER’s General Manager of Infrastructures and Transport, was in attendance.
The engineering and technology group SENER came together with Dragados to form the Spanish part of the constructor’s consortium for the Albères tunnel, which is part of this connection. The Spanish-French consortium (comprising Dragados, SENER, Eiffage, Arcadis and Setec) was selected to deliver the tunnel taking the line underneath the Albera Massif, an 8.5 km distance between Montesquieu-des-Albères and La Jonquera. Two tunneling machines were put to work to carry out the job, one at each end. It is worth noting that this tunnel runs alongside the Perthus tunnel, which forms part of the Figueres – Perpignan high speed rail link that SENER led, as engineering company, until its commissioning.
In the Albères tunnel, SENER was in charge of the engineering for the design of the tunnel and of the South Portal (the Spanish side), which includes a building for maintenance and facilities, a conventional bored tunnel and a cut and cover tunnel. Particularly important aspects of this design were the layout of the route and the structural calculation of the tunnel, connecting the two portals. SENER’s responsibility also included specifying the right type of tunneling machine to perform the digging. They decided upon a Double Shield TBM (Tunnel Boring Machine) and elected to integrate the facilities for the TBM inside the tunnel at the southern opening.
Furthermore, SENER supervised all of the civil engineering works concerning the tunnel and the South Portal and provided engineering support throughout the project.
The Pyrenees interconnection is a buried network of approximately 60 km of direct current line, which has a rated voltage of ± 320 kV for a maximum load of 2,000 MW and bidirectional power flow. It runs between the towns of Baixas (Western Pyrenees) in France, and Santa Llogaia d’Àlguema (Girona Province) in Spain. Entering into service once it has passed its testing period in coming months, the connection will ensure the security of the grid and quality of supply in both countries.