LONDON (dpa-AFX) - With the new Neuconnect power link to Germany, the importance of the UK as an electricity market continues to grow, according to an expert. "The British Isles are already the second largest offshore wind market in the world after China," Marc Lehnfeld from the German government-owned company Germany Trade and Invest (GTAI) told the German Press Agency in London.

So far, the UK is still a net importer of electricity. However, the British government wants to significantly increase offshore wind capacity from 15 to 50 gigawatts GW by 2030. This will also boost export potential, said Lehnfeld.

Groundbreaking ceremony in Wilhelmshaven

Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck is expected to attend the ground-breaking ceremony for the German landfall point of the electricity highway in Wilhelmshaven on Tuesday (today). The 725-kilometre-long underwater power cable will connect the energy grids of Great Britain and Germany for the first time. The so-called interconnector can transport up to 1.4 gigawatts of electricity in both directions - that is enough energy for around 1.5 million households. The construction costs of almost three billion euros are being borne by a consortium of investors.

According to the Federal Network Agency, interconnectors can improve energy security and boost competition, which can lead to lower electricity prices. According to the agency, direct connections between electricity markets increase sales opportunities. The countries could thus mutually benefit from the most favorable generation conditions.

According to the Federal Network Agency, Germany currently has 54 such interconnectors, which connect the country with all nine neighboring countries as well as Sweden and Norway - four of which are submarine cables. 16 further interconnectors, including Neuconnect, are currently being planned.

"The Neuconnect electricity link will be the first direct German-British interconnector," said GTAI expert Lehnfeld. "In addition to the political signal of rapprochement, the interconnector underlines the importance of the energy industry for both countries." The electricity connection allows for a better balance between the two electricity markets. According to preliminary data, around 24 terawatt hours more electricity was imported to the UK than exported in 2023. "The interconnector therefore opens up a new market for German electricity producers," said Lehnfeld.

German companies are among the most important players in the British market

In view of the British plans, however, the sales direction could change in the future. The world's largest wind farm projects, Dogger Bank and Hornsea, are under construction in the North Sea.

German companies are also involved in the British offshore wind energy market. "RWE is one of the largest developers in the country with ten current and nine planned offshore wind projects," said Lehnfeld. "EnBW is also currently developing three offshore wind farms on the British coast."

However, the industry is also under pressure. "Significantly higher costs for the wind turbines themselves, but also on the financing side, are stalling the development of further wind farms for the time being," said Lehnfeld. The current sixth round of funding for renewable energy projects could provide a boost. At 800 million pounds, the majority of the funding pot is reserved for offshore wind energy.

However, the Renewable UK association and the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult innovation center have criticized that the volume of funding will not be enough to close the gaps left by the last round of funding, which came to nothing./bvi/DP/zb