Governments

Massive 10.5GW wind, solar and battery project in Morocco to send power to UK

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British company Xlinks has unveiled its plans to build 10.5GW worth of wind and solar power in the north African country of Morocco and link it to Great Britain via 3,800 kilometre-long HVDC subsea cables.

The project – similar in concept to Sun Cable’s plans to supply Singapore from Australia – aims to create up to 10.5GW worth of wind and solar generating capacity and combine it with a massive 5GW/20GWh battery storage facility.

It says this will be able to deliver 3.6GW of renewable energy for an average of more than 20 hours a day, and proposes to deliver this power to the UK via a 3,800km HVDC sub-sea cable by the end of the decade.

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The scale of the project is huge, although still smaller than the now 20GW Sun Cable project, which plans to install up to 42GWh of battery storage and a 3,700km sub sea cable to link the massive solar resource in the Northern Territory with Singapore.

That project is backed by Australian billionaires Andrew Forrest and Mike Cannon-Brookes.

It also revives memories of the “Desertec” project which aimed to build massive wind and solar farms across the north Africa desert region to supply Europe, but which failed to obtain finance.

Xlinks is hoping to secure its capacity into Great Britain via the UK Government’s Contracts for Difference (CfD) mechanism – which this month unveiled that it would support a range of technologies in its fourth round.

But it insists that apart from this it will not require government subsidy or financing, and will still be able to deliver electricity at the £48/MWh CfD – below the central forecast for energy prices proposed by the UK Department for Business, Energy & Strategy (BEIS).

The aptly named Morocco – UK Power Project will, in addition to its 3,800km HVDC sub-sea cable, build its wind and solar capacity across an area of approximately 1,500 square km in Morocco’s Guelmim Oued Noun region.

“Xlinks is a Morocco – British first,” said Sir Dave Lewis, the the executive chair of Xlinks and a former Tesco CEO. “Using proven technology, it will deliver clean power to over 7 million British homes in this decade.

“The project will harness extremely reliable solar and wind power in Morocco to deliver vital baseload power balancing and enabling our own offshore wind ambitions, while reinforcing Morocco’s renewable energy industry.

“Working in tandem with domestic renewables, it makes a reliable, net zero electricity system by 2035 much more possible in Britain.

“We are heading into an era of unprecedented growth in offshore wind farms around the world. The demand for HVDC cable, to connect these offshore farms to shore is expected to grow rapidly, to more than three times current capacity, over the next ten years.”

Xlinks has also created a new cable supply system company called XLCC, which will produce the 15,200km of HVDC cable required for the Morocco – UK Power Project, and will start production of the cables in 2024.

Xlinks expects that XLCC will provide approximately 1,350 new and permanent regional jobs by 2024, and agreements have already been signed for factories to be located in Hunterston in Scotland and Port Talbot in Wales. Discussions are also underway for a third factory in England’s North East.

Land has already been found for the wind and solar projects and Xlinks is already well advanced on all the various work streams behind the project.

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