World's longest subsea cable to export green energy from Morocco to the UK
The Morocco-UK Power Project will export 3.6GW of solar plus windpower to the UK from a new project in the Guelmim Oued Noun region, capable of generating 10.5GW. That's the equivalent of 20+ hours of sustainable energy a day as the project takes advantage of the high solar irradiance and desert winds in the south of the country.
The project will also feature a 5GW/20GWh battery facility, helping to ensure that the power generated will be supplied as a dedicated, reliable and near-constant supply. This flexible, renewable and sustainable energy supply is the brainchild of Xlinks and the company is currently making headway to secure the necessary government and regulatory approvals in Morocco.
Seven million UK homes
Transmission of this resilient power supply will be by four cables laid in the shallow waters of the direct Morocco-UK route and skirting the coasts of Portugal, Spain and France. The first cable is slated to be active by 2027, with the others to launch two years later. Two 1.8GW connectors will deliver the power to the grid at Alverdiscott in Devon.
Once complete the project will be capable of powering seven million UK homes by 2030, providing 8% of the UK's total electricity needs. Xlinks claim that by using the UK's Contracts for Difference renewable auction scheme (CfD) the project will be a source of revenue, not cost. In the 2019 CfD auction, offshore wind reached a new record-breaking low of £39.65/MWh.
Xlinks has chosen Morocco because of the resilience of wind and solar energy capable of providing power all year round. North Africa's Global Horizontal Irradiance (GHI) is 20% higher than that of Spain and twice that of the UK, with 10 hours sunlight on even the shortest day. It's this reliability that produces the necessary production profiles to address periods of low wind power activity.
Morocco already boasts Africa's first fully powered solar village in Id Mjahdi, outside of Essaouira. Cleanenergy installed a solar power station with 32 solar PV panels capable of generating 8.32KW, and a water tower. These mini grids are predicted to bring electricity to 500 million people by 2030.
According to Xlinks, solar panels in Morocco generate five times more power from January to March than solar panels in the UK and three times more power overall.
Impact on jobs
There's also expected to be a positive impact on jobs, creating 10,000 jobs in Morocco of which 2,000 will be permanent. The impact will also be felt in the UK as Xlinks strives to create an export-led cable manufacturing industry via XLCC, its dedicated cable supply system company. This will provide 1,350 permanent UK-based jobs by 2024, when production starts on the Morocco-UK cable.
Morocco is aiming to generate 52% of its energy needs from sustainable sources by 2030. In 2019 a 600-800MW PV-plus-CSP-plus-storage project was contracted to France's EDF, while the government held a 400MW solar PV tender last year.