Ceuta wants to stop being a “energy island” in Spain. That, and join the commitment to renewables and the decarbonization of the rest of the country. Today, 100% of the autonomous city’s demand is covered by energy of fossil origin generated by diesel generators and gas turbines, a peculiarity that has several disadvantages: the first, as the Red Eléctrica Española (REE) itself points out , is that it keeps Ceuta immersed in “energy isolation”; the second, its high cost for the national electricity system; and the third, key, which is very polluting.
To solve it, REE, the Government and the Ceuta authorities have just presented an ambitious project: an interconnection that will link the autonomous city with the peninsula and will allow the territory’s demand to be covered by 87% with “energy from emission-free sources”. “It will integrate Ceuta into the peninsular electrical system and will make it stop being an energy island”, he highlights.
The project is included in the 2021-2026 Electrical Planning, a roadmap that has been approved by the Council of Ministers and is binding for REE, and contemplates a global investment of around €221 million. At the moment it is in the public information phase so that residents, organizations and institutions can consult it or even make contributions.
An energetic umbilical cord
The new “umbilical cord” between Ceuta and the Iberian Peninsula —as the president of Ceuta, Juan Jesús Vivas, has defined it— will consist of a 68.9 kilometer pipeline which will run underground along its entire route: 9.2 km will be channeled under the peninsula; 58 will sink into the sea, where the marine orography reaches a depth of 900 meters; and the remaining 1.7 km will be distributed in another underground section as it passes through the autonomous city.
The connection will link the Algeciras substations, in the municipality of San Roque, and the Virgen de Africa substation and will include a 132 kV double circuit. To facilitate the work and guarantee the safety of the system, REE explains that it will opt for micro-tunneling and dry cables, without insulating liquid.
“Thanks to this interconnection, the people of Ceuta will enjoy a safe and quality electricity supply, just like the rest of Spain, thus ending their energy isolation. And this will allow the city to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and advance in the ecological transition, essential to achieve a cleaner city”, explains the president of REE, Beatriz Corredor.
Red Eléctrica calculates that by covering 87% of Ceuta’s demand and reducing dependence on fossil fuels, the pipeline will prevent the emission of some 300 kt of CO2 per year in the Strait of Gibraltar, especially exposed to the effects of Climate Change. The infrastructure will also have two other added advantages: it will cover the autonomous city’s growing energy demand without the need to build new generating parks and “it will lead to considerable savings” in the bill for the entire national electricity system.
“High-cost energy from the current Ceuta thermal power plant is replaced by energy from the peninsula and especially from Andalusia, the second community with the highest installed renewable power in all of Spain,” says RE, which estimates the savings in 30 million annually.
Images | Spanish Electric Network
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism