LONDON: A plan has emerged to import renewable electricity to the UK from a giant wind and solar farm in Morocco, connected to the British mainland via a giant undersea cable.
Dave Lewis, former CEO of retail giant Tesco, is heading a bid by energy startup Xlinks to provide up to 8 percent of the UK’s power needs from a site in southern Morocco.
The proposed location, in Guelmim-Oued Noun, would cover an area the size of Greater London, and hosts consistently sunny and windy weather, making it optimal to install wind and solar farms.
It would be linked to the UK via a power cable over 3,800 km in length, installed off the coasts of Portugal, Spain and France, with the whole project estimated to cost around £16 billion ($22 billion).
However, Lewis said the plan would only become viable with a guarantee from the British government, which has not yet been forthcoming.
“It’s completely consistent with (Prime Minister) Boris Johnson’s energy strategy,” he told The Times. “It’s renewables, but it’s renewables at a lower cost and more reliable (than current options), so what’s not to like?
“But it will require the government to step forward in a leadership role and engage with an innovative project, because they’ve not seen one like this before.”
The emergence of the plan comes as the UK faces an energy crisis, with prices increasing, difficulties in fuel supply chains, and talks ongoing about approving construction of new nuclear power plants to meet demand.
The UK is also struggling to keep pace with its own commitments to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
On Friday, Johnson addressed the UN in New York where, ahead of the UK’s hosting of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, he said it is “time for humanity to grow up” on energy production and climate change.
The UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy told The Times it is “aware” of the Xlinks proposal and is “keeping the project under review.”