National Grid has confirmed that the IFA1 interconnector, which was damaged by a fire in Kent, won’t return to full service until October 2023, later than initially anticipated.
IFA1 would typically provide 2GW of capacity by leveraging power brought over from France, but since the fire last month, the interconnector hasn’t been operating at all. National Grid is currently on site to restore capacity, but it has warned that extensive safety work will need to be undertaken before it’s back to full capacity.
It was initially expected that IFA1 would return to full operation in March 2022, but National Grid has now confirmed that the additional work required will push that date back to October 2023. However, it does plan on bringing the interconnector back to half capacity before then.
At the time of the fire, 1GW of the 2GW interconnector was already offline as part of planned downtime. This capacity was not due to be returned until October 23, 2021, but this timeline has since been accelerated. That means IFA1 will once again be operational from October 20.
However, that’s still only half the capacity, which it will operate at until at least October next year. The firm hopes that IFA1 will provide 1,500MW of capacity in time for next winter, giving the grid extra breathing room at a time it will desperately need it. Which is still 500MW under its total capacity.
In a statement, National Grid confirmed that its goal is to get IFA1 back to normal service as soon as possible, but noted that it will only do so if it can ensure safety and security of supply. The bad news surrounding IFA1 could not have come at a worse time for the UK’s energy system, with tight margins causing prices to skyrocket. Thankfully, new interconnectors are set to come online shortly to help plug some of IFA1’s capacity gap.