First ever UK-German energy link moves ahead as construction starts on £2.4bn NeuConnect project

July 19, 2023

First ever UK-German energy link moves ahead as construction starts on £2.4bn NeuConnect project

  • UK Minister for Investment, German Ambassador to the UK and UK Energy Security Secretary congratulate NeuConnect team on major milestone

Construction is now underway on the £2.4bn/€2.8bn NeuConnect project – a vital new energy link between the UK and Germany that will connect two of Europe’s largest energy markets for the first time.

Led by global investors MeridiamAllianz Capital PartnersKansai Electric Power and TEPCO, NeuConnect will become one of the world’s largest interconnectors. Some 725km of land and subsea cables will form an ‘invisible energy highway’ between the UK and Germany, allowing up to 1.4GW of electricity to flow in either direction, helping to boost energy security and resilience while also helping to integrate renewable energy sources in both countries.

NeuConnect will construct new converter stations on the Isle of Grain in Kent, England and the Wilhelmshaven region in Lower Saxony, northern Germany, connected by subsea cables travelling through British, Dutch and German waters. NeuConnect’s main contractors, Prysmian Group and Siemens Energy, have now started works in the UK (see further below for more details) with preparatory works also underway in Germany where construction will begin in early 2024. NeuConnect is expected to be operational by 2028, helping to deliver:

  • Greater energy resilience, security of supply and consumer benefits – the NeuConnect link will allow up to 1.4GW of electricity to flow in either direction between the UK and Germany, enough to power up to 1.5 million homes over the life of the project. It will help to deliver a more secure and resilient energy supply, with independent analysis showing the project will create over £1.7bn in UK consumer benefits over 25 years;
  • A significant reduction in CO2, supporting net zero goals – by integrating renewable energy sources in the UK and Germany, independent analysis shows that the project could deliver a net reduction in carbon emissions of over 13MtCO2 over 25 years;
  • The single-largest Anglo-German infrastructure project and an important symbolic link – Along with creating an important new piece of energy infrastructure, NeuConnect will represent an important symbolic link between the British and German economies, with the project’s significance to Anglo-German relations recently highlighted by His Majesty The King and the German President

NeuConnect met with UK Minister for Investment Lord Johnson and German Ambassador to the United Kingdom Miguel Berger, who congratulated NeuConnect on the start of construction, and discussed the important contribution the project will make to energy security and net zero goals, investment growth, and continued Anglo-German relations.

Minister for Investment, Lord Johnson said: “This £2.4bn project doesn’t just demonstrate continued global investor confidence in the UK, but also the successful work we are doing with our European neighbours to drive investment and deliver vital new infrastructure. The first spade in the ground is a significant milestone on a project of national importance, so I offer my congratulations to NeuConnect and its investors.”

Miguel Berger, German Ambassador to the United Kingdom, said: “NeuConnect is a key project to support Germany and the UK in achieving their climate targets and to boost energy security. It is the largest Anglo-German infrastructure project and will enable us to share excess power – preventing renewable energy from being wasted. NeuConnect’s 725km power highway will be the first direct energy link between the UK and Germany. With construction underway in Kent, and major construction due to start early next year in Wilhelmshaven at the German end, speedy progress can be expected.” 

The start of works on NeuConnect was also welcomed today by UK Energy Security and Net Zero Secretary Grant Shapps who said: “NeuConnect will be the first ever power line between the UK and Germany and is central to my mission to bolster national energy security while also strengthening our important ties with a North Sea ally. With the potential to power 1.5 million homes from 2028 with reliable, affordable and clean power, I am delighted to see construction commence today, with this exciting infrastructure set to protect the UK’s energy security for generations to come.”

Julia Prescot, Chair of NeuConnect, said: “At a time when sustainable, resilient energy links across Europe have never been more important, the start of construction on NeuConnect is a huge milestone and an important step in the race to Net Zero. With work now accelerating across the project, the first link between two of Europe’s largest energy markets is moving ever closer, and we are grateful for the continued support of our Government, industry, and financial partners as we deliver this vital project.”

NeuConnect reached Financial Close in July 2022 with a consortium of more than 20 national and international banks and financial institutions including the UK Infrastructure Bank, European Investment Bank (EIB), and Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC). Since Financial Close last year, a range of site surveys and archaeological activities have been carried out, allowing construction work to now begin in the UK. Work now underway across the NeuConnect project includes:

  • Onshore drilling: NeuConnect’s cabling contractor Prysmian is starting Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) works on the Isle of Grain site in the UK. The HDD works will allow the subsea cables to be brought on-land, and have been selected for the UK site to help minimise the impact on the surface and to the local environment.
  • UK Converter station works: further inland from the HDD works in the UK, NeuConnect’s contractor Siemens Energy has now started works on attenuation ponds and the construction of a main access road that will link to the new electricity converter station. The construction of the UK converter station will start next year.
  • Offshore surveys: Alongside onshore works, ‘pre-installation’ offshore survey works are now underway to prepare the route for subsea cables to be installed in future. The first phase of subsea cable installation will start next year.
  • Cabling production: Separate to the major works now underway in the UK, the production of 725km of cabling is now well underway at Prysmian’s factory in Arco Felice, Italy and Sumitomo’s factory in Osaka, Japan. Prysmian have now released a new video showing the production of NeuConnect’s cabling in Arco Felice – view the video here.
  • Site works in Germany: work is making good progress on an access road that will connect to the new converter station in Wilhelmshaven, Lower Saxony, northern Germany. Major construction in Germany will start early next year.