The Channel Tunnel, also known as the Chunnel, allows people and freight to make take an underwater train voyage back and forth from Great Britain and Northern France. It is estimated that 17 million people and approximately 15.3 million tons of freight passed through Chunnel in 2010 alone. Now Eurotunnel, the group which organised the Chunnel’s construction, is looking to provide passage for an entirely different kind of passenger: electricity.
According to a recent statement released by Eurotunnel and Star Capital, plans for a twin-cable direct current (DC) “interconnector” that would carry 500 megawatts of electricity between England and France are in the works. Both parties have apparently conducted studies that show that the power cable could be safely installed inside the service tunnel portion of the Chunnel. If the project, called Eleclink, goes forward, it would reportedly increase cross-channel electricity capacity by 25% to 2500 megawatts. The project is said to be worth about €250 million (around $367 million).
Eurotunnel cites the increase in electricity consumption and the varied price differences between the two countries depending on the time of day as compelling reasons to install the Eleclink, which is meant to smooth out the increase in energy imbalances and offer more capacity for developing renewable energy sources.
With countries like Scotland aiming to generate double its power needs in renewable energy, a power line facilitating the movement of more energy out of the U.K. seems like a pretty bright idea. If offshore wind in the U.K. continues at its present pace, there will be more than enough power to send down the Chunnel.