First trans-European direct current link using innovative technology
EIB, Inelfe, RTE and REE sign EUR 350m loan contract to finance construction of France-Spain power interconnector
The European Investment Bank (EIB) has undertaken to participate in financing the France-Spain interconnector, the first trans-European direct current link using innovative converter technology, with a EUR 350 million loan to the two operators of the French and Spanish power grids, RTE and REE.

A quadripartite agreement was signed on Thursday 6 October 2011 by the EIB, Inelfe, RTE and REE, represented by EIB Vice-Presidents Magdalena Álvarez and Philippe de Fontaine Vive, Inelfe's Chairman, Carlos Collantes, RTE's Deputy Director General responsible for finance, Philippe Dupuis, and REE's Finance Director, Teresa Quirós. The signing ceremony was held at the headquarters of the prefecture in Perpignan (France).

The new power interconnector between France and Spain is unique: this is the first time in Europe that an electricity link of this power is using innovative VSC (voltage source converter) technology with the ability to convert alternating to direct current very rapidly. The major advantage of direct current compared to alternating current is the possibility of building a very long underground link.

This is a major innovative project: the new line will connect the municipalities of Santa Llogaia (near Figueras) and Baixas (near Perpignan) and will be laid entirely underground in 64.5 km of trenches (31 km and Spain 33.5 km in France). The section crossing the Albera Massif (Pyrenees) will be laid in an 8.5 km tunnel alongside those of the Perpignan-Figueras high-speed rail line.

The primary purpose of this new interconnection is to double electricity exchange capacity between Spain and the rest of Europe from 1 400 to 2 800 MW. Specifically, the project will:

  • improve the reliability of the European power supply system;
  • enhance the security of supply for the French and Spanish power grids;
  • at the local level, improve the quality of the power supply for the inhabitants of the Roussillon and Ampurdán regions;
  • promote the production and commercialisation of electricity from renewable energy sources;
  • better integrate the Iberian market into the European electricity market, improving competitiveness and impacting positively on electricity prices in Europe;
  • supply the Spanish section of the future Perpignan-Barcelona high-speed rail line;
  • foster economic and social development in the municipalities either side of the border with substantial benefits for local businesses and employment during the construction of the interconnector.

The commercial launch of the interconnector is scheduled for 2014.

The total budget is EUR 700 million.

The power interconnector is also receiving a EUR 225 million EU grant under the European Energy Programme for Recovery.