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France's CRE energy regulator rejects GridLink's investment demand

France's CRE energy regulator rejects GridLink's investment demand
By Reuters
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- French energy regulator CRE said on Friday it had rejected a proposal on how to cover investment in the 1.4 gigawatt (GW) Gridlink interconnector between the French and British power networks.

There are now three interconnectors, or high voltage cables, linking the grids of France and Britain, with combined capacity of 3 GW. A third is scheduled for completion this year.

The 900 million euro ($1 billion) GridLink interconnector, a fourth link that includes a 140 km (108 mile) subsea cable, would run from near Dunkirk in northern France to Kent in southern Britain.

Work was scheduled to start in early 2022 with commissioning expected in late 2024.

GridLink, owned by the iCON Infrastructure Partners III fund, applied to build and operate its interconnector under a European Union regulation scheme that protects the investor against the risk of insufficient profitability, by ensuring the recovery of investment costs via user tariffs.

CRE said their decision to reject the request followed a study of the carbon emissions price, the evolution of the energy supply mix and the impact of decoupling markets after Britain left the EU.

The French government will review CRE's recommendation.

The Gridlink project was initially submitted as a project of common interest under the EU infrastructure regulation in 2020, which includes sharing cross-border investment costs, CRE said.

After Brexit in December 2020, the regulation ceased to apply in Britain, so CRE and British regulator Ofgem considered it was no longer possible to make a joint decision on GridLink's request, according to CRE's document on its deliberations.

GridLink submitted a new investment request to CRE in March which underwent public consultation in June.

One of the existing interconnectors between France and Britain, IFA 1, went offline in the autumn after it was damaged by a fire in Kent.

The role of cross-border interconnectors is seen as increasingly vital in providing steady power as European nations increasingly shift towards renewable energy, such as wind and solar, which often provide only intermittent supplies.

($1 = 0.8979 euros)

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