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The UK government has designated a project for the import of electricity produced from wind and solar in Morocco one of “national significance”.
The designation should accelerate work on the project, whose cost has been estimated at over $24 billion. In April this year, the price tag was seen at 18 billion pounds, or $22 billion.
Dubbed Xlinks, the venture would see the construction of wind and solar generation capacity totaling 10.5 GW, of which 7 GW solar and 3.5 GW wind, all located in the Sahara desert.
The project would also involve laying the world’s longest sub-sea cable, at an impressive 3,800 km, which will link the massive wind and solar farm in Morocco to the UK grid.
According to plans, the electricity produced at the farm could satisfy the electricity needs of 7 million households, or 8% of the national total.
The executive chairman of Xlinks, a former Tesco executive, said the project could be completed without any government subsidies, per the Financial Times.
The company is currently seeking to negotiate a 25-year contract for difference with the government, offering between 77-87 pounds per MWh, which is equal to between $94 to $104 per MWh, and is lower than the current wholesale price of solar power in the UK, which is 96 pounds, equal to around $117 per MWh.
Yet the price that Xlinks is eying is higher than the price the government awarded in the latest wind and solar auction for CfDs - the tools that the UK uses to ensure more wind and solar is being built by committing to long-term purchases under fixed prices.
The length of the contract the company is seeking is also longer than the usual for a CfD, which is 15 years, the FT notes in its report on the news.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.