A critical electrical connection between the United Kingdom and France has been shut down, causing wholesale energy costs to skyrocket.
The cable will be completely offline until September 25 due to a fire and planned repair at a facility in Ashford, Kent, according to National Grid.
It is estimated that half of its capacity, or one gigawatt (GW), will be unavailable until late March 2022.
The next day’s energy rates in the United Kingdom increased by 19% to £475 per megawatt hour on Wednesday (MWh).
The fire started in the early hours of Wednesday at the Interconnexion France-Angleterre (IFA) facility. There were no reports of injuries once the location was evacuated.
The National Grid claimed in a statement that an energy interconnector running beneath the English Channel was “not working” after the incident.
Electrical interconnectors are high-voltage cables that connect neighboring nations’ electricity networks, allowing them to exchange excess power.
Despite the incident, a spokeswoman for National Grid’s electrical system operator, which balances power supplies in the United Kingdom, said the company intends to “continue providing electricity safely and securely.”
The connection, which can transport up to 2GW of power, has been importing electricity from France in recent days, after UK wholesale energy prices touched a record high of £540 per MWh.
Concerns about inflation and the possible impact on companies have risen as prices have risen, just as the country’s economy begins to recover from the worst effects of the coronavirus epidemic.
Analysts are now keeping a careful eye on National Grid’s efforts to get the facility back online as winter approaches, bringing increased energy demand with it.
The National Grid stated, “Our inquiry is ongoing, and we will inform the market with any modifications as needed.”
Through the interconnectors that run beneath the English Channel, Britain is a net importer of energy, with France being its largest provider.
The IFA2 interconnector, a second link between the United Kingdom and France, is now fully operational and unaffected by the issue.
The 1GW link is a £700 million joint venture with RTE, a French power company, and is the UK’s fourth power exchange with continental Europe.