November 30, 2023

Xlinks raises $25m from TotalEnergies for 3,800km cable from the Sahara to the UK

Xlinks says the cable could contribute 8% of the UK’s power needs

Freya Pratty

2 min read

French oil and gas giant TotalEnergies has invested $25m in Xlinks, a UK startup building a 3,800km cable along the seabed to bring solar power from Morocco to the UK.

Xlinks, which says the cable could contribute 8% of the UK’s power needs, has also secured backing from the Abu Dhabi National Energy Company, known as TAQA, an energy firm run by the Emirati government.

Xlinks has also secured money from British consumer energy firm Octopus Energy.

In May, TotalEnergies closed its CVC arm, TotalEnergies Ventures, and sold its portfolio of climate tech companies to Paris-based VC firm Aster. But its appetite for clean energy investments appears to not have been dampened as it becomes the latest fund to write Xlinks a cheque.


Vincent Stoquart, TotalEnergies' senior vice president of renewables, told Reuters the project would benefit from the company's "track record in developing large and complex integrated energy projects”.

Finding the cash — and political will

Xlinks’ CEO Simon Morrish told Sifted earlier this year that the project will cost £20bn in total. Adding TotalEnergies’ investment, it’s now secured £50m.

Morrish also told Sifted that the company has £5bn of equity financing lined up.

“Between TAQA and another investor we expect to bring in in the next few months, we’ve got about £5bn of the equity lined up,” he said — adding that in 18 months all the financing for the project should be secured.

In September, the project was declared “of national significance” by Claire Coutinho, the UK’s energy secretary. The designation means planning applications will go direct to central government, streamlining Xlinks’ building process.

The company is also petitioning the government for a “Contract for Difference”, an agreement from the government that would guarantee a fixed electricity price for the power it produces.

Under the scheme, if wholesale prices fall below the price agreed by the government, it pays the developer the difference.

The interconnector boom

As demand for renewables grows, there’s increasing interest in cross-border electricity cables, or interconnectors, which can bring energy from abroad when the wind or sun isn’t providing power.

There are at least nine interconnectors planned in Europe. They include Viking Link, a 760km cable under construction between Denmark and the UK, and the Hansa PowerBridge, planned to run from Germany to Sweden.

Xlinks’ interconnector will start in Tan-Tan, a town in the south of Morocco. Xlinks has secured a 50-year lease to build 10.5 GW of solar and wind generation. The cable will make landfall in Alverdiscott, a village in Devon, in the south of England.

Freya Pratty

Freya Pratty is a senior reporter at Sifted. She covers climate tech, writes our weekly Climate Tech newsletter and works on investigations. Follow her on X and LinkedIn