NeuConnect: planning Europe’s new clean energy superhighway

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Discover how our work on NeuConnect – the first direct power link between Great Britain and Germany – is paving the way to a more resilient energy future.

Bringing together expertise from the United Kingdom, Netherlands and Germany, we worked collaboratively across European borders to support the preparations for a major submarine cable project. The NeuConnect interconnector will be the first direct power link between Germany and Great Britain, connecting two of Europe’s largest energy markets for the first time.  

Dubbed as ‘clean energy superhighways’, interconnectors establish vital links between the energy grids of different countries, enabling a secure, cost-effective power supply to cross geographical borders.  

Comprising approximately 720 kilometres (450 miles) of submarine high-voltage cables, NeuConnect will link the Isle of Grain in Kent, England with Germany’s Wilhelmshaven region, with the subsea cable route crossing Dutch territorial waters.   

When complete, the NeuConnect submarine cable will have capacity to carry 1.4 gigawatts of electricity in both directions – enough to power up to 1.5 million homes during the project’s lifespan. According to British energy regulator Ofgem, the project could deliver a net reduction in carbon emissions of more than 13 megatons of CO2 over 25 years.  

Who benefits from the NeuConnect clean energy superhighway?

In addition to integrating energy markets, interconnectors have a key role to play in the green energy transition as they allow countries to import clean, affordable energy when needed – and to share and trade surplus energy.   

With NeuConnect, the UK will be able to tap into Germany’s vast energy infrastructure – including its significant renewable energy sources. The new power link will also allow Germany, the world’s third largest producer of wind power, to export its excess power – a longstanding challenge for the country that frequently causes wind turbines to power down. Both countries will therefore benefit from a more flexible energy supply.  

Recognised for its contribution in helping European countries achieve energy policy and climate objectives, NeuConnect was included as a Project of Common Interest (PCI) in the fourth list published by the EU.  

With NeuConnect, the UK will be able to tap into Germany’s vast energy infrastructure – including its significant renewable energy sources. 

What’s AECOM’s role in the NeuConnect interconnector project?

Our work involved coordinating and preparing the permit applications and environmental impact assessments (EIA) for the onshore and offshore elements for the entirety of the subsea cable.  

Collaborating closely, our teams in the UK, Netherlands and Germany worked together to manage the various permit applications and help the client coordinate the many stakeholders – from authorities and residents to NGOs.  

As well as 181-kilometre subsea cable in German waters, the German permitting team also managed 12 kilometres of onshore cable including connections between the substation and converter station.  

As nitrogen emission and deposition (the release of reactive forms of nitrogen into the atmosphere) are critical in the Netherlands due to their environmental impact, we developed a successful and proactive approach to mitigate and significantly reduce both during the construction phase. 

Collaborating closely, our teams in the UK, Netherlands and Germany worked together to manage the various permit applications and help the client coordinate the many stakeholders.

Evaluating environmental impacts

In addition to permit management, we conducted Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) on all subsea cable work in Dutch waters located in the North Sea (the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone). 

Identifying and evaluating any potential environmental and ecological effects were of critical importance as the cable passes through both Dutch and German nature reserves. We consulted with several NGOs as well as the owners of neighbouring cables and pipelines, and the permits were successfully granted in 2022.  

While EIAs were not legally required for the submarine and land cable in Germany, we carried out all EIA-related investigations regardless, as a matter of best practice. 

Unlocking a renewable energy future

With the permitting work complete and permission granted, financial close has been achieved and construction works have now commenced. 

By connecting two of Europe’s largest energy markets for the first time, NeuConnect will facilitate a more resilient, secure and sustainable supply of renewable power, helping the region to keep pace with the energy transition.