Xlinks Morocco–UK Power Project

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Morocco–UK planned link map

The Xlinks Morocco-UK Power Project is a proposal to create 11.5 GW of renewable generation, 22.5 GWh of battery storage and a 3.6 GW high-voltage direct current interconnector to carry solar and wind-generated electricity from the Kingdom of Morocco to the United Kingdom.[1][2][3][4] Morocco has been hailed as a potential key power generator for Europe as the continent looks to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.[5]

If built, the 4,000 km (2,500 miles) cable will be the world's longest undersea power cable by far, and would supply up to 8% of the UK's electricity consumption.[6][7][8] The project is projected to be operational by 2030.[9]

Current status[edit]

As of April 2024, the project's developer, Xlinks First Ltd has received investments from Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (TAQA), TotalEnergies, and Octopus Energy, raising more than £50 million for the project, with £5 billion of equity finance 'lined up'.[10][11] It was previously reported that it was close to appointing bankers to help raise the billions of pounds of investment funding required.[12]

In August 2023 Xlinks was declared a project of “national significance” by Claire Coutinho, the UK’s Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero.[13]

Xlinks was founded by Simon Morrish, a serial entrepreneur who provided most of the £30M seed funding.[7] The project’s executive chairman is former Tesco chief executive Sir Dave Lewis,[3]  and the vice-chair is Paddy Padmanathan, former CEO and president of ACWA Power. Sir Ian Davis, former chairman of Rolls-Royce Holdings, serves as a non-executive director.[7][12]

Power generation[edit]

Generation is proposed from a solar farm covering around 200 km2 (77 square miles), together with a wind farm of approximately 1,500 km2 (580 square miles), complemented by a 22.5 GWh / 5 GW battery. The planned total generating capacity is a nominal 11.5 GW.[3][1][14]


Solar resources in Morocco and Western Sahara
Wind Power Density in Africa[15]

The wind and solar farms will be located in the Guelmim-Oued Noun region of Morocco.[4] The region has excellent generating characteristics:

  • The desert location has sunshine with the third highest Global Horizontal Irradiance (GHI) in North Africa.[4][16]
  • The consistently strong winds blow from the North and North-West. Mountain ranges inland from the coast concentrate the wind and enjoy some of the highest onshore wind power densities in Africa.[17]

Daily consistency[edit]

The PV component will generate electricity during daylight hours, and the PV panels will move to track the sun to increase output in the morning and the evening. In Morocco, the prevailing winds blow most strongly in the afternoon and early evening, driven by the temperature difference between the Sahara Desert and the cooler Atlantic Ocean. These generating characteristics, combined with battery back-up, should allow the cable to run at full capacity for more than 19 hours a day on average.[4][18]

Seasonal consistency[edit]

Because of the intense year-round sunshine, solar panels are expected to produce three times more energy than they would in the UK. The panels will generate throughout the year, including the winter months when, in Britain, sunshine is scarce and the days are short. The reliable prevailing winds will generate power consistently, even at times of low winds in Europe.[4]

Interconnector cable[edit]


If built, the undersea cable will run from landfall near Tan-Tan in southern Morocco to National Grid connection points at Alverdiscott near the north coast of Devon, England.[4]

The cable will follow the shallow water route from Morocco to Great Britain,[4] going to a maximum depth of 700 metres (2,300 ft).[2] Following the continental shelf is longer than the direct route, but is less technically challenging[4] and avoids the abyssal depths of the Bay of Biscay.

The cable route passes Spain, Portugal and France, but is not planned to have any electrical connection to these countries.[4] This will massively simplify obtaining permits from those countries.[7]

Technical specification[edit]

The 3.6 GW interconnector is planned to consist of two independent 1.8 GW circuits, each with separate positive and negative cables.[4][1]


Xlinks proposes to manufacture the submarine power cables through a separately financed affiliate company, XLCC, and has secured a manufacturing sites in Hunterston, Scotland. [12] In Mid-2023, the Hunterston site received planning permission and is expected to start production in 2025.[19] The first apprentices for the factory, which will employ 900 people, have already been recruited.[20][21]

Project economics[edit]

The cost is estimated at £22bn,[3][22] which will come from private investors, it is estimated half of this will be for the interconnector cabling.[7]

Though transmission losses for such a long cable will be relatively high at 13%,[2] power should be available even at times when neither solar nor wind power is available in the UK,[4] when prices will be higher.

In April 2024, Xlinks released cost guidance that the project is seeking to secure contracts for difference to supply electricity at £70-80/MWh (2012 pricing).[23]

Project history[edit]

Xlinks, the project developer, was founded in 2018.[3] Xlinks Ltd. was incorporated in March 2019.[24]

In September 2021, Xlinks stated that they "have secured with the Moroccan government an area of about 1,500 km2 [580 square miles] for a combined wind and solar farm in Morocco".[3]

By October 2021, Xlinks stated that they have reached agreement with National Grid plc for two 1.8 GW HVDC connections to the GB National Grid in Devon.[4][25]

In March 2022, Intertek completed a Permit Feasibility Study, which "outlines in detail the process Xlinks must follow to obtain the permits to survey the proposed route, install the cable system and complete the necessary maintenance throughout the project's operation life."[26] Intertek was also commissioned to provide Quality Assurance and technical advice on marine cable routing, survey specification and procurement.[27]

In May 2022, Octopus Energy invested in the project.[28]

In November 2023, TotalEnergies confirmed a £20 million pound investment in the project.[29]

In December 2023, WSP was contracted to expand technical advisory work on the project.[21]

In February 2024, Xlinks appointed James Humfrey as CEO of Xlinks First Ltd, to lead the Xlinks Morocco - UK Power Project to allow Xlinks founder and Group CEO of Xlinks Ltd, Simon Morrish to focus on developing future energy projects.[30][31]

In March 2024, it was reported that the developer was exploring additional future schemes, including between Morocco and Germany.[32]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Grundy, Alice (25 September 2021). "Moroccan solar-plus-wind to be linked to GB in 'ground-breaking' Xlinks project". Current. Retrieved 2022-05-02.
  2. ^ a b c Chris Baraniuk (22 October 2021). "How to plug the UK into desert sunshine". BBC News. BBC. Retrieved 2 May 2022.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Leslie Hoo (26 September 2021). "UK start-up plans world's longest subsea electric cable with Morocco". ft.com. Financial Times. Retrieved 2 May 2022.
  4. ^ Birnbaum, Michael (2023-04-14). "Europe needs energy. Moroccan solar may be a clean solution". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2024-04-10.
  5. ^ Lee (an_lee), Andrew (2023-11-29). "Oil supermajor backs $25bn Xlinks bid to pipe Saharan green power 4,000km to UK". Recharge | Latest renewable energy news. Retrieved 2024-04-10.
  6. ^ a b c d e JASON DEIGN (4 December 2020). "Xlinks Revives Desertec's Dream, With a Few Twists". Greentech Media. Retrieved 4 May 2022.
  7. ^ Leake, Jonathan (2024-02-26). "Britain to harness power of Sahara solar farms using 700ft ship". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2024-04-10.
  8. ^ Benny, John (2023-11-29). "France's TotalEnergies invests $25 million in British start-up Xlinks". The National. Retrieved 2024-04-10.
  9. ^ Mavrokefalidis, Dimitris (2023-04-26). "Morocco-lous! Octopus and TAQA back huge UK-Morocco cable project". Energy Live News. Retrieved 2024-04-10.
  10. ^ "Xlinks raises $25m from TotalEnergies for 3,800km cable from the Sahara to the UK". Sifted. Retrieved 2024-04-10.
  11. ^ a b c Mark Kleinman (29 April 2022). "Clean energy start-up Xlinks eyes investor backing for revolutionary £16bn project". Sky News. Retrieved 3 May 2022.
  12. ^ Geschwindt, Siôn (2 October 2023). "£20B plan to power the UK with Moroccan sunshine might actually go ahead". TNW | Sustainability. Retrieved 15 October 2023.
  13. ^ Martins, Lena Dias (2024-03-14). "Connecting to net zero: Building the Morocco-UK interconnector". Current News. Retrieved 2024-04-10.
  14. ^ "Global Wind Atlas". Retrieved 8 May 2021.
  15. ^ "Global Solar Atlas". World Bank Group. Retrieved 7 May 2022.
  16. ^ "Global Wind Atlas". Technical University of Denmark, and World Bank Group. Retrieved 7 May 2022.
  17. ^ Chetwynd (g_chetwynd), Gareth (2024-02-27). "'Valuable as nuclear, but cheaper': can ex-Shell exec make UK's $25bn Moroccan green power dreams come true?". Recharge | Latest renewable energy news. Retrieved 2024-04-11.
  18. ^ Johnson, Thomas (2023-07-18). "Planning permission granted for subsea cable manufacturing plant with UK-Morocco link as first customer". New Civil Engineer. Retrieved 2024-04-11.
  19. ^ "Twelve Ayrshire apprentices appointed roles at leading subsea cable business". Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald. 2023-10-05. Retrieved 2024-04-11.
  20. ^ a b Johnson, Thomas (2023-12-06). "WSP signed to expanded technical advisory role on Morocco-UK interconnector project". New Civil Engineer. Retrieved 2024-04-11.
  21. ^ Gosden, Emily (2024-04-11). "Cost of Xlinks project to tap into Moroccan energy surges by £4bn". ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 2024-04-11.
  22. ^ Sanderson (c_sanderson), Cosmo (2024-04-16). "Cost of Morocco-UK green power mega-project jumps by billions". Recharge | Latest renewable energy news. Retrieved 2024-04-19.
  23. ^ "XLINKS LIMITED Company number 11891505". Companies House – Register. Companies House. Retrieved 7 May 2022.
  24. ^ "Massive Solar Plus Wind Morocco Project Source of Power for UK". Advanced Batteries & Energy Storage Research. 4 October 2021. Retrieved 4 May 2022.
  25. ^ "Intertek Delivers Permit Feasibility Study for the World's Longest Proposed Subsea Cable Between the UK and Morocco". Intertek. 11 March 2021. Retrieved 4 May 2022.
  26. ^ "Intertek to Support Xlinks Morocco-UK Power Project with Marine Cable Routing and Survey Procurement". Intertek. 9 March 2022. Retrieved 4 May 2022.
  27. ^ Alice Grundy (12 May 2022). "Octopus invests in Morocco-UK power project Xlinks as it signs strategic partnership". Current +/-. Current-news. Retrieved 13 May 2022. Octopus Energy Group has entered a financial and strategic partnership with Xlinks, the company behind a project to link the UK with solar power in Morocco.
  28. ^ cargo (2023-11-29). "TotalEnergies invests £20 million in developing Xlinks". Xlinks. Retrieved 2024-03-24.
  29. ^ cargo (2024-02-26). "Xlinks growth sees appointment of new CEO to lead the Morocco – UK Power Project". Xlinks. Retrieved 2024-03-24.
  30. ^ Mavrokefalidis, Dimitris (2024-02-26). "New CEO appointed to lead Morocco - UK power project". Energy Live News. Retrieved 2024-04-11.
  31. ^ Sanderson (c_sanderson), Cosmo (2024-03-12). "We won't dump UK for Germany: $25bn Morocco-Europe green power mega-project denies switch". Recharge | Latest renewable energy news. Retrieved 2024-04-10.

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