Sunday 26 September 2021 12:22 pm

Ex-Tesco boss Dave Lewis behind £16bn link to import clean energy from Morocco

A £16bn project to build the world’s longest power link will supply seven million UK homes with ‘near constant, low-cost clean energy’ according to its new chair, former Tesco boss Sir Dave Lewis.

The renewable energy plan by Xlinks will take power from 10.6 gigawatts of large-scale solar and wind farms in Morocco via a 3,800km undersea cable, according to reports, and unlike the UK’s other interconnectors, will supply only Britain.

The sub-sea project aims to help Britain towards a ‘reliable, net zero electricity system by 2035,’ said Lewis, who was Tesco’s chief executive between 2014 and 2020, and is credited for turning it around after finding a £263m black hole in its accounts.

Xlinks says the reliability of the Moroccan sun and dessert winds will help deliver a smoother supply for the UK, where power from these sources can be unpredictable at a time when the need to create more renewable energy solutions is more crucial than ever.

Meanwhile, the company does not expect to require subsidy or financing from the UK government and using the contracts for difference (CFD) scheme, will provide energy at £48/MWh.

Lewis said Xlinks has been talking to the government about the project as it prepares for its CFD application. It plans to build at least two factories to manufacture the cables and to start laying it in 2025, with a target end date for the first half in 2027 and the rest by 2029.

The sub-sea project will generate nearly 10,000 jobs in Morocco, with 2,000 expected to remain permanent. The manufacturing of the high-voltage direct current (HVDC) cable in Britain will create around 1,350 jobs.

Lewis said: “We’re heading into an era of unprecedented growth in offshore wind farms around the world”.

“Investing in a British-owned and valuable, high growth export industry serving decarbonising economies across the world will create thousands of regional manufacturing jobs and stimulate demand for British made steel and aluminium for decades.”