Red Eléctrica de España today presented the electricity interconnection project that will link the Iberian Peninsula and Ceuta, integrating the autonomous city into the peninsular electricity system meaning it will no longer be an electrically isolated system. The event was also attended by the Government’s Deputy Delegate for Cadiz and the Minister for Finance and European Funding of the Andalusian Regional Government. This is a strategic and transformational project for Spain, which forms part of the new Electricity Planning for 2021-2026, the roadmap for the development of electricity transmission infrastructure in the coming years, which was approved on 22 March by the Spanish Government and is binding for the Company.
The Chairwoman of Red Eléctrica, Beatriz Corredor, stated that "Red Eléctrica undertakes this project, which is binding for the Company, with a willingness for dialogue and reaches out to the society and local administrations of Cadiz, opening channels for collaboration and working together so that this project represents an opportunity for improvement for this territory and its neighbours. We will carry out this interconnection project with the firm intention of promoting the green transition in Spain and being faithful to the values that define us: neutrality, independence and public service".
During the event, the Government’s Deputy Delegate for Cadiz, José Pacheco, stressed that "for this project to be successful, it must seek the consensus and approval of all parties. In fact, this objective is what has brought us here today". Mr. Pacheco also emphasised the Spanish Government's commitment to, and backing for, renewable energy as an integral part of the green transition process. "As far as Red Eléctrica is concerned, the 2026 Electricity Transmission Grid Planning, which focuses on achieving a green future for Spain, was approved in March. This means guaranteeing a secure electricity supply with high levels of quality, promoting clean energy and fighting climate change".
For his part, the Regional Minister of Finance and European Funding, Juan Bravo, valued the contribution of this interconnection to territorial structuring, an infrastructure that will also be shared between ‘twinned territories’ such as Andalusia and Ceuta, and which "will allow the use of the abundant renewable energy resources available to us in Andalusia, thus contributing to our region becoming an ever-greater exporter of energy".
The project, which foresees an investment of approximately 221 million euros, will contribute to the decarbonisation of the Strait of Gibraltar, one of the areas most affected by the consequences of climate change. Thus, its commissioning will prevent the emission of 300 kt of CO2 per year, contributing at the same time to achieving the 2030 goals of Spain’s National Energy and Climate Plan.
The interconnection also meets economic efficiency criteria. It is estimated that its commissioning will bring savings of 30 million euros per year for the national electricity system, which translates into a benefit for the region of Andalusia and their electricity consumers.
Red Eléctrica, as transmission agent and operator of the Spanish electricity system, has initiated the administrative and permitting process of the project, one of the most important for the national electricity system. This process begins with a first phase of public information in which the Company makes the project available to the public administrations and all stakeholders to ensure that they can make consultations and contributions to the project that they deem necessary.
In this way, the Company offers its full support to all the public administrations in the region and society at large and is fully prepared to maintain a dialogue and open channels of collaboration during the permitting process of the project as well as during its execution, seeking at all times to generate the greatest benefit for the territory.
A cable route that is integrated into the environment
The Peninsula-Ceuta interconnection has been designed to achieve maximum integration into the environment, with the least possible impact on the terrestrial and marine ecosystems and on the cultural heritage of the area. To this end, the strictest environmental, economic and social sustainability criteria have been taken into account in its design at all times.
Thus, an underground and underwater route that goes around the main population centres and takes full advantage of the existing infrastructure has been chosen, following one of the guiding principles of electricity planning. In this respect, the project envisages the enlargement of the existing 220 kV Algeciras substation, located in the industrial area of San Roque and integrated into an area with facilities and infrastructure for similar uses. The substation will be connected by an underground cable to a new transformer station, which, like the existing substation, will be equipped with cutting-edge technology and will guarantee maximum levels of safety. The transformer station has been designed so that it is compatible and respectful of the urban development projects being promoted in the area. Furthermore, the fact that it will be fully enclosed in a building means that the surface area required to build this facility is only 534 m2, thus reducing the need for space by 84%.
For its part, the 9km land-based section on the peninsula will run underground through consolidated urban public roads, under pavements or roadways and alongside existing infrastructure used for other usual public services. In this way, the visual impact of an overhead line and at least 10 towers that initially had a visual impact in the foothills of the Sierra Carbonera mountain range is eliminated.
Furthermore, the underwater cable landing point on the peninsula, which will be carried out using horizontal directional drilling, will be located in the vicinity of the Torre Nueva beach, in an area of land prepared and used as a parking lot, thus avoiding any alterations to the beach. The cable runs through an underground conduit from the parking area to a point that is 1,000 metres offshore.
For the 58 km underwater section, the best route has been sought on the basis of technical and environmental criteria, taking into account the complexity of the marine orography, which at some points reaches a depth of 900 metres. The cables that will be used in this part of the route incorporate cutting-edge cable technology and dry insulation, and will run across the seabed protected and buried to ensure their safety.