Inelfe awarded the construction of the tunnel for the France-Spain electrical interconnection to a consortium led by Eiffage TP and Dragados

Inelfe, a company equally owned by REE and RTE, has awarded the construction of the tunnel for the France-Spain electrical interconnection through the Pyrenees to the business consortium led by Eiffage TP and Dragados, of which Setec, Arcadis and Sener are also members.

The tunnel, which will be 8.5 kilometres long and 3.5 meters in diameter, will house the electrical interconnection cables in the section that crosses the Pyrenees, while for the rest of the underground layout a trench will be used. The link will run parallel to the high speed train tunnel, at a distance of between 30 and 100 meters, and it will also begin and end in the municipalities of La Junquera, Spain, and Montesquieu des Albères, France.

The interconnection works through the massif des Albères will begin in 2012 and will last approximately one year. Two tunnel-boring machines will be used, which will begin work simultaneously on both sides of the border.

This award follows the contracts signed last December with Prysmian and Siemens to build the necessary cables and converter stations.

The France-Spain Interconnection will increase the capacity of electricity exchange between the two countries from 1,400 to 2,800 megawatts and will prevent the emission of 2.3 million tonnes of CO2 a year. It will reinforce the security of the power supply at the regional and national levels and will allow full use of the output of power generation plants, achieving a greater integration of renewable energy in the network.

The technologies chosen for this project are innovative, both due to the length of the underground line and to the technology used for cables and converter stations at these levels of voltage and power.

The works carried out by Inelfe will begin in 2011, once RTE in France and REE in Spain have obtained the necessary administrative authorizations for the construction of the interconnection line. REE obtained the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the project on 13 December.

The main features of the project (underground line, direct current, a 65-kilometer layout and the use wherever possible of existing infrastructure) were defined by the Zaragoza Agreement signed on June 27, 2008 between the Spanish and French governments.

The France-Spain Interconnection has been declared a project of European interest and is being financed by the European Union with 225 million Euros in the framework of EEPR (European Program for Energy Recovery).