A cross-industry study from Aurora Energy Research suggests that the UK should reduce its increasing dependence on interconnectors that import electricity from other European markets.

While ‘Energy security in an interconnected Europe’ notes the electricity interconnection with the rest of Europe could provide British electricity consumers with a range of benefits, it says these would only be achieved with the right policy framework in place.

Interconnectors add layer of energy security

Interconnectors have the potential to add an additional layer of security to the UK’s energy system, integrate more wind and solar power into the UK, and help reduce the cost of electricity for British consumers.

Britain has links with France, the Netherlands, Ireland and Northern Ireland and plans to add an additional 18 gigawatts, equivalent to nearly a third of peak demand, Bloomberg reported.

But Aurora is questioning how reliant interconnectors are and whether they will help the UK “keep the lights on” during a system stress event.

The company’s research found that, historically, interconnectors have often delivered less power than the National Grid assumed they would when demand was at its highest. What’s more, there have been some occasions when the cables undermined the UK’s security of supply by exporting power to neighbouring countries during peak demand periods.

Aurora’s CEO, John Feddersen, commented: “Reducing the reliance placed on interconnectors for security of supply would enable Britain to retain the benefits of freer flow of electricity with Europe, while ensuring sufficient domestic back-up capacity exists in the event that interconnectors prove to be less reliable than Government currently assumes.”

Change of power auction rules to reflect reliability

The study also suggests changing power auction rules to reflect reliability. Interconnectors take part in the UK’s capacity auction and the last auction saw interconnections win agreements of 2.4 gigawatts.

“The government should carefully consider the impact of relying on significant increases in imported electricity for security of supply,” said RWE Supply & Trading GmbH’s chief commercial officer, Tom Glover.

A review of the auction parameters is currently being conducted by the government.

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