The high voltage direct current (HVDC) underground transmission cable system interconnecting France and Spain is ready for commercial operation.
Prysmian Group won the contract for the INELFE project — worth a total of more than $102 million — at the end of 2010 by a 50:50 joint venture between the Spanish grid operator, Red Electrica de España, and the French grid operator Réseau de Transport d’Électricité.
The project comprises of a ± 320 kV extruded HVDC underground cable turnkey system that includes the engineering, production and installation of two 1,000 MW bipolar circuits along a 40 mile land route (with 5 miles in a purpose-built tunnel across the Pyrenees), between the substations in Baixas (near Perpignan, in France) and Santa Llogaia (near Figueres, in Spain).
The total of 156.5 miles of cables were manufactured in Gron (France) — one of the group’s excellence centers for extra high voltage cables — using specially upgraded production lines and handling systems that allowed the production of very long cable lengths (about twice the industry average) and, consequently, a substantial reduction of the overall project execution time and risks.
This important project marks a series of milestones, being the highest power rated (2 GW) and highest voltage (± 320 kV) land HVDC system employing an extruded cable connection ready for commercial operation. Classified as a priority project by the EU, this cable link has been realized to increase the transmission capacity between France and Spain, thus improving diversification of sources and security of supply, as well as enhancing electricity market integration in Southwest Europe. For Spain in particular, the project will increase grid system stability and, therefore, facilitate the use of renewable energy.
The group has recently announced also the successful commissioning and hand over of the first and the second HVDC offshore grid connections (BorWin2 and HelWin1).
A further two DC offshore grid connection projects, SylWin1 and HelWin2, and one DC land connection, Skagerrak 4, are near completion and are scheduled to take up commercial operation within the first half of 2015. Prysmian is currently implementing also the HVDC cable systems for the DolWin3 and BorWin3 projects.