The laying of the cable is underway as part of the installation of Normandie 3, the third undersea cable linking the Channel Islands to France.
The new cable will run from Periers in France to Long Beach in Jersey. Its 100MW capacity will be utilised by both Jersey Electricity and Guernsey Electricity.
The cable forms part of the Channel Islands Electricity Grid along with Normandie 2, an existing 100MW cable between Jersey and France and GJ1, a 60MW cable between Guernsey and Jersey.
Guernsey Electricity corporate strategy director Sally-Ann David said: “This new cable, once commissioned, will provide both islands with extra capacity allowing Guernsey Electricity to increase the amount of electricity we import to around 85-90%.”
After 10 years of preparations, including obtaining French planning permissions, the work has now begun on the physical installation of Normandie 3. The main contractor Prysmian Powerlink is undertaking the work on the seabed between France and Jersey and also the landside in Jersey. RTE are responsible for all landside activity in France.
The Cable Enterprise, a 7,000-tonne power cable-laying vessel, has already started work off the coast of France, following anchorage testing, to lay the cable.
The vessel, which is 115 metres long and 32 metres wide, was acquired by cable specialists Prysmian Group in 2012 after it underwent a €30m refurbishment. The Cable Enterprise can withstand winds of up to Force 7 and waves two metres high and accommodates 60 crew members. .
The work , which is currently taking place off Armanville Plage in France, involves pulling a plough through the seabed to create a furrow into which the 2,500-tonne, €48m cable, which was manufactured by Prysmian Powerlink in Naples, Italy, is laid at the rate of approximately 50 metres an hour.
Mrs David said that the project was a good example of the islands working together.
“The project is under the banner of the Channel Islands Electricity Grid and utilises expertise from both GEL and JEC.
“Engineers from Guernsey Electricity have been involved in identifying the route, offshore survey management including environmental issues, liaising closely with the local fishing fleets, advising on the submarine cable contract and providing risk protection and control for the project.”
The project is expected to be complete before the end of the year when commissioning tests will begin. The link should be fully commissioned and able to add power to the grid in both islands by 2015.
“This is a major step forward in energy security for the islands,” said Mrs David.
“However we must also remember that the cable link enables us to access a greater level of cheaper, lower carbon energy from Europe; meaning that this investment is good news for our customers.”