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Future of Interconnectors

The Future of Interconnectors project will help align future strategic and operational cross-border decisions across the ESO to maximise the benefits of interconnectors.

Why is this analysis needed?

This innovation project is being undertaken at a time where the energy industry is evolving and energy prices are increasing in the UK and oversees. Interconnectors are becoming particularly important for the future as they enable excess power to be traded and shared between countries. This ensures energy isn’t wasted and drives costs down as we can import cheaper energy.

By 2035, interconnector capacity in Britain is expected to increase by 20 gigawatts (GW). With the rapid pace of change across the energy industry, we must make sure we can continue to keep the lights on securely and efficiently. What role will interconnectors play in the future energy system? How will the ESO need to operate to maximise the benefits of more interconnection? This is what the project will identify, funded using Ofgem’s Network Innovation Allowance (NIA) funding scheme.

What is our approach?

It will be developed in three phases:

Phase 1. How do interconnectors operate today and what could the energy system look like in the future?

An insight into the role of interconnectors today in terms of system operation and system balancing.  Based on the Future Energy Scenarios (FES) 2022, we will identify what the future could look like focusing on years 2025, 2030 and 2035 in Britain and its neighbouring countries.

Phase 2. Future role of interconnectors

For each scenario, we will then identify the potential roles of interconnection in respect of flexibility, capacity adequacy, and for operability requirements.

Phase 3. Role of the ESO

This phase will determine how the ESO can help maximise the opportunities brought by interconnectors.

Analysis and modelling will include the European models from FES 2022, and expertise from across the ESO and consultants, Afry.

​A fourth phase will be undertaken outside of NIA funding. This will include recommendations on changes needed in different functions across the ESO. Clear priorities will be identified making sure we work efficiently to one coherent plan. This will help us maximise benefits from interconnection rapidly.

When will this be completed?

We expect Phase one will be completed by September 2022. Phase two will be completed by November. We will publish our final report in January 2023.