British renewables mega-engineers XLinks have taken on £ 30 million of new equity, secured to fund the next phase in building their 3,800 kilometre power connectors, designed to pump Moroccan solar & wind electricity into Britain’s grid.
With £25 million of new backing from Abu Dhabi’s national utilities managers TAQA, plus a top-up on an existing stake from Greg Jackson’s Octopus Energy, the Essex-based firm has closed its latest funding round needed to advance its vision towards reality.
Solar & wind farm operators TAQA are already engaged in a similar HVDC venture in the Gulf. Their Xlinks interest will add to existing assets in power generation by photon, wind, and water, and control of distribution interests.
One-time McKinsey management consultant Simon Morrish, plus former Tesco boss Sir Dave Lewis, head Billericay-based Xlinks.
Its game-changing concept envisages turning 3.6GW of desert-based solar & wind farms, plus 20GWh/5GW of battery storage, towards British baseload consumption, meeting up to 8% of the UK’s power needs.
In late 2021 it announced its ambitions to lay four HVDC cables across the Atlantic coastal shelf from southern Morocco, passing Portugal, Spain and France, and reaching Britain’s grid in north Devon.
Energy ministry D-ESNZ has set up a dedicated team to work with Xlinks to consider the merits of the project and understand how it could contribute to the UK’s energy security.
At launch, the firm put a £16 billion tag on the venture. Securing backing first privately from Octopus Energy founder Greg Jackson, then last year through his privately held group, last August the UK firm appointed Canadians WSP as project engineers.
Said Morrish, “Xlinks’ ambition is to supply British households with secure, affordable, and green energy all year round.
“With this investment and support from our partners TAQA and Octopus, along with the support received from both the UK and Moroccan Governments, we take another step toward achieving that ambition”.
With cable-making capacity scarce among the world’s manufacturers, Xlinks was investigating one or more UK factories. A possible conversion of the former Hunterston nuclear power plant on the Ayrshire coast was at one time mooted.