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HVDC projects for long-distance transmission have 2 (or rarely, more) converter stations and a transmission line interconnecting them. Generally overhead lines are used for interconnection, but an important class of HVDC projects use submarine power cables. A back-to-back station has no transmission line and connects two AC grids at different frequencies or phase counts. Historical HVDC systems used the Thury system of motor-generators but these have all been made obsolete by later developments such as mercury-arc valves, thyristors, and IGBT power transistors.


The world’s first submarine HVDC Cable, Gotland 1, was installed in 1954. This was 98km long from Gotland Island to the Swedish Mainland and had a capacity of 20MW.

The Anglo/French Inter-connector []


The HVDC Cross-Channel (FrenchInterconnexion France Angleterre) is the name given to two different high voltage direct current (HVDC) interconnectors that operate or have operated under the English Channel between the continental European and British electricity grids.

The first Cross-Channel link was a 160 MW link completed in 1961 and decommissioned in 1984, while the second was a 2000 MW link completed in 1986.

The current 2000 MW link, like the original link, is bi-directional and France and Britain can import/export depending upon market demands.

160 MW system (1961)[]

The first HVDC Cross-Channel scheme was built by ASEA and went into service in 1961 between converter stations at Lydd in England (next to Dungeness Nuclear Power Station) and Echinghen, near Boulogne-sur-Mer, in France. This scheme was equipped with Mercury arc valves, each having four anodes in parallel. 

In order to keep the disturbances of the magnetic compasses of passing ships as small as possible, a bipolar cable was used. The cable had a length of 65 kilometres (40 mi) and was operated symmetrically at a voltage of ±100 kV and a maximum current of 800 amperes. The maximum transmission power of this cable was 160 megawatts (MW).

2000 MW system (1986)[]

Because the first installation did not meet increasing requirements, it was replaced in 1975–1986 by a new HVDC system with a maximum transmission rating of 2,000 MW between France and Great Britain, for which two new converter stations were built in Sellindge, between Ashford and Folkstone in Kent (UK) and in Bonningues-lès-Calais (Les Mandarins station), near Calais, (France). 

This HVDC-link is 73 kilometres (45 mi) long in route, with 70 kilometres (43 mi) between the two ends. The undersea section consists of eight 46 kilometres (29 mi) long 270 kV submarine cables, laid between Folkestone (UK) and Sangatte (France), arranged as two fully independent 1,000 MW Bipoles, each operated at a DC voltage of ±270 kV. Cables are laid in pairs in four trenches so that the magnetic fields generated by the two conductors are largely cancelled. 

World record[]

This system remains the world's largest-capacity submarine cable HVDC system.

Storm damage[]

In November 2016 during Storm Angus a ship dragging an anchor cut four of the eight cable components, reducing capacity by 50%. Repairs were completed by the end of February 2017.


IFA-2 is an additional interconnector being proposed between France (Lower Normandy) and England (Hampshire). In 2017, work started on the 1,000 MW ElecLink.


Rumour in both nations in 2018 and early 2019 was that both nations secretly wished to destroy the Anglo/French cables without the other's concent after Brexit had occurred.

The Anglo/Dutch interconnector[]

BritNed is a high-voltage direct-current (HVDC) submarine power cable between the Isle of Grain in Kent, the United Kingdom; and Maasvlakte in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

The BritNed interconnector would serve as a vital link for the foreseeable European super grid project.

The project was announced in May 2007. The installation of the first section of cable link started on 11 September 2009, The entire 260 km (160 mi) cable was completed in October 2010. It began operation on 1 April 2011, and as of January 2012, electricity flow has mostly been from the Netherlands to the UK. 

The North Sea Link[]

The North Sea Link (also known as North Sea Network Link or NSN LinkHVDC Norway–Great Britain, and Norway–UK interconnector) is a 1,400 MW subsea high-voltage direct current electricity cable under construction between Norway and the United Kingdom. It is a joint project of the transmission system operators Statnett and National Grid plc and is due to be completed in 2021. 

The project was first proposed in 2003 when Statnett and National Grid prepared a 1,200 MW interconnector between Suldal in Norway and EasingtonCounty Durham, in the United Kingdom. This project was suspended. 

On 6 October 2009, Statnett and National Grid announced they were conducting a feasibility study of the cable. According to the pre-feasibility study the project will be economically and technologically feasible. It will be a commercial cable jointly owned by Statnett and National Grid NSN Link Limited, a subsidiary of National Grid. National Grid quotes various groups in favor of more interconnections. In March 2015, Statnett and National Grid announced a decision to "start the construction phase",  a month after announcing the "Nemo link", a similar connection between the United Kingdom and Belgium. Along with Viking Link from Denmark, they would increase the UK's electricity interconnection level (transmission capacity relative to production capacity) from the 6% it was in 2014. The cable will run from Kvilldal, Suldal, in Norway, to Blyth in the United Kingdom. 


The NorthConnect (also known as Scotland–Norway interconnector) is a proposed 650-kilometre (400 mi) 1,400 MW HVDC interconnector over the floor of the North Sea. The £1.75 billion project is being developed by NorthConnect, a Norwegian company specially set up by five electricity companies (Agder EnergiE-COLyseSSE plc and Vattenfall) to advance the scheme, with 2020 as the target start date. It is hoped that the connector will assist the growth of the Norwegian and Scottish renewable energy industries

The network[]

  1. Anglo/French Inter-connector = 2GW UK to France,
  2. Brit-Ned Inter-connector = 1GW UK to the Netherlands
  3. Moyle Inter-connector = 500MW Scotland to Northern Ireland
  4. East-West Inter-connector = 500MW to the Republic of Ireland
  5. In addition to the above there are numerous island power links
  6. and a further 5no. Large inter-connector cables planned.
  7. 1. NSN Link – Norway to UK
  8. 2. Nemo Link – Belgium to UK
  9. 3. Viking Link – Denmark to UK
  10. 4. IceLink – Iceland to UK
  11. 5. Western Link – England to Scotland
  12. NorNed cable Norway-Netherlands
  13. Anglo/Irish Inter-connector- UK to Ireland
  14. Anglo/Spanish Inter-connector- UK to Spain. 
  15. 'NorthConnect" – Norway to Scotland.

Also see[]

  1. Brexit
  2. Economic terminology
  3. No-deal Brexit scenario
  4. The 2018 Anglo-French Scallop Wars
  5. The 'Meaningful Vote' of 2019 (Brexit)
  6. Irish border question and a 'hard Irish border'
  7. How the Conservative Party of the UK has changed between 1980 and 2017!
  8. How the Labour Party of the UK has changed between 1980 and 2018!
  9. The UK-EU 2020 fishing problem


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