The new electrical interconnection between Spain and France begins its commercial operation on 5 October, whereby, under favourable operating conditions, the electricity exchange capacity between the two countries can be doubled. For the first week, the interconnection capacity will be increased up to 2,000 MW.
The line, with a length of 64.5 km, links the towns of Santa Llogaia near Figueras (Gerona), with the town of Baixas, near Perpignan. The route is completely underground and has been housed in a concrete trench, except for the stretch that crosses the Pyrenees that runs through an 8.5 km tunnel that runs parallel to the high speed train line.
This project, began in 2008, has been a technological challenge for Red Eléctrica de España (REE) and for Réseau de Transport d’Électricité (RTE) and symbolises the three axes of the European energy policy, as it contributes to increase the security of supply of electricity in Europe, combat climate change and further the development of the single European electricity market.
At a local level, it guarantees electricity supply to the regions of Gerona and Roussillon and provides the energy needed to power the high speed train between Barcelona and Perpignan. In addition, its commissioning will allow a saving of one million tonnes of CO2 per year.
The construction works for the interconnection line concluded in February 2015, coinciding with the official inauguration of the same. Since then, the line has been in operation but in technical testing mode.
This new electrical interconnection between Spain and France represents the achievement of different technological milestones in the global arena, as it is the first time that an underground interconnection of this length with a power capacity of 2,000 MW has been carried out using the latest high-voltage direct current transmission technology available.
The technological development has also been applied to the converter stations which have been built at each end of the line, making them unique in the world due not only to their technology but also to their capability to reverse the direction of flow of the energy exchanges between Spain and France in just 50 ms.
The investment in the project has totalled €700 million, of which €225 million correspond to a financial subsidy from the European Union under the framework of the European Energy Programme for Recovery (EEPR). Additionally, it has received funding from the European Investment Bank through a loan of €350 million granted to REE and RTE.