Fire hits key power link between Britain and France

16 September 2021, 06:44

  • 2 GW of power capacity lost due to fire and planned maintenance
  • 1 GW of power to remain offline until March 2022
  • Wholesale power prices jump almost 19%
A fire broke out at the site in Sellinge
A fire broke out at the site in Sellinge. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

A key electricity cable between Britain and France has been shut down following a fire, sending wholesale energy prices soaring.

National Grid said a fire and planned maintenance at a site at Sellindge near Ashford in Kent means the cable will be offline until 25 September.

One gigawatt (GW) of power, half of its capacity, is expected to remain unavailable until late March 2022.

National Grid said in a statement yesterday afternoon: "The IFA interconnector is currently out of service following a fire at our site in Sellindge.

"Following an initial review, we have updated the market that 1000MW is unavailable until 27 March 2022.

"We have extended the outage on the other 1000MW, which was offline due to a planned outage, until 25 September.

"Our investigation is ongoing and we will update the market with any changes as necessary."

British electricity prices for the following day jumped by 19% yesterday to £475 per megawatt hour (MWh).

A second key power link between the UK and France is unaffected, National Grid said.

"Our IFA2 interconnector continues to operate as normal at full capacity," a statement said.

Twelve fire crews were sent to the site yesterday, Kent Fire and Rescue Service said.

National Grid evacuated the site.