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Emirati Company in Talks to Finance Morocco-UK Submarine Power Project

Taqa, an Abu Dhabi-based energy company, is in “advanced talks” to finance Xlinks, a British startup building the world’s longest undersea cable to transport electricity from wind and solar energy production plants in the south of Morocco to the UK.

According to a report from Sky News, Taqa is negotiating the acquisition of a “significant” share of the project valued at £18 billion. 

An agreement could be reached within the coming weeks as part of Xlink’s fundraising round, the report added, noting that the British startup is expected to raise more than £30m of new funding in its latest round.

Xkinks looks to construct a 3,800-kilometer submarine cable — the world’s largest of the kind — that can transmit enough electricity input to power more than seven million British homes, covering 8% of the UK’s energy needs. The project will transport 3.6 GW of green energy sourced from 1,500 square kilometers of solar and wind plants across Morocco’s Guelmim-Oued Noun region.

The project received a massive boost on Thursday last week when the UK government issued a policy paper announcing that it is considering the viability of the Xlinks Morocco-UK Power Project and studying how it could contribute to the country’s energy security.

The paper expressed the UK government’s desire to “explore the potential for international projects to provide ‘clean and affordable power.’”

While the project has significant potential to help the UK grantee its energy security, it faced the prospect of a political deadlock in late 2022 as Britain’s constant change of governments put the project’s completion one year behind its original schedule.

According to officials at Xlinks, the political turmoil that saw three governments take office in less than 11 months made it hard for the company to coordinate with the UK government. 

Executive Chairman of the Xlinks Project Sir Dave Lewis told The Times in November 2022 that talks with the UK government on the energy project were “frustratingly slow.”

The official even said that unless the UK government committed to carrying out the project, the energy could be redirected elsewhere. “There’ll come a point, which is, if the UK government can’t decide, as a business we’ll have to think about what alternatives there are, because there’s an awful lot of interest in providing this energy to other countries,” he said.

The main issue that faced the execution of the project was the company’s inability to secure a Contract for Difference (CfD) with the UK government. The contract guarantees the company a fixed price for the electricity they supply to customers, namely £48 per megawatt-hour for the power delivered.

Despite the delay, Xlinks said that it could still complete the project by 2030 should the UK government deliver the guarantee in 2023. The cable was set to go online by 2027, but the current delays mean the project is unlikely to meet its original deadline.

Source : Moroccoworldnews