INELFE, the company set up and jointly owned 50/50 by REE and RTE, has awarded two construction contracts of the underground electricity line for the electrical interconnection between Spain and France. These contracts represent 60% of INELFE's total budget for constructing the interconnection, an amount of some 700 million euros.
The interconnection between Spain and France will increase the energy exchange capacity between both countries from 1,400 to 2,800 megawatts. In addition, it will strengthen the security of the electricity supply at both regional and national level, it will allow the production from the generating power stations to be used to the fullest and will allow a greater amount of renewable energy to be integrated into the grid.
For the stretch of line, 65 kilometres in length, Prysmian will produce 252 kilometres of cable, as the interconnection is made up of four cables (two per link), which will be installed in a concrete trench for the majority of the route, except in the part which crosses the Pyrenees, which will be in a tunnel. These two pairs of cables will carry 2,000 megawatts of direct current, at 320 kilovolts, from one side of the border to the other.
Siemens will construct two converter stations, one at each end of the line. The object of these stations is to convert alternating current into direct current. These will be located in Baixas (France) and Santa Llogaia (Spain). The technology chosen by INELFE offers numerous advantages for the electricity grid due to its flexibility and its capacity to provide support services in complicated conditions in the operation of the grid.
The technologies chosen in this project constitute an innovation not only due to the length of the underground section of the line but also because of the technology of the cables and converter stations at these levels of voltage and power.
The works of INELFE will begin in 2011, once RTE in France and REE in Spain have obtained the relevant administrative authorisations for the construction of this interconnection line. In relation to this, REE obtained the project's Environmental Impact Declaration (EID) on 13 December.
The main characteristics of the project (underground line, in direct current, with a route which uses existing infrastructures as far as possible) were defined by the agreement signed in Zaragoza on 27 June 2008 between the Spanish and French governments.
The interconnection between Spain and France, declared project of European interest, is co-financed by the European Union with a total of 225 million euros within the framework of the European Energy Programme for Recovery (EEPR).
INELFE (INterconexión ELéctrica Francia-España) is a joint society equally owned by the managing companies of the electricity transmission grids in Spain and France, and created for the development of this new interconnection line between both countries.