* Capacity could power around 4 million homes
* UK wholesale prices around 20 pct higher than France
* Project expected to start delivering power in 2022
By Susanna Twidale
LONDON, March 6 Private investment firm Aquind
is confident of raising the cash needed to build its planned 1.1
billion pound ($1.4 billion) power link between Britain and
France, despite Britain's move to leave the European Union, a
board member told Reuters.
Last June's "Brexit" vote has raised questions about
Britain's continued participation in Europe's energy market and
whether investors will be prepared to put money into more
physical energy links with the continent.
However, Aquind non-executive director Martin Callanan said
he expected to find plenty of interest since the economic case
for the project - in particular Britain's demand for power and
normally higher electricity prices - stood regardless of Brexit.
"Given the price differentials on both sides of the Channel,
we believe there will still be a strong economic case," he said.
"Even if tariffs were applied (to Britain's cross border
electricity trades following Brexit), those tariffs would apply
both ways," he added.
Britain currently imports around 5 percent of its
electricity from France but is seeking ways to increase its
power sources to help replace aging coal and nuclear plants set
to close in the 2020s.
Once completed in 2022, the interconnector would be able to
deliver up to 2 gigawatts of electricity, enough to power around
four million homes.
Callanan said Aquind expected to raise cash from fellow
private equity investors and hoped to begin construction in
Britain currently imports power from France though the IFA
interconnector, owned by Britain's National Grid, and
French grid operator RTE.
Electricity is able to flow both ways, but due to higher
electricity prices in Britain it is usually an importer.
Wholesale spot electricity prices averaged around 42 pounds
($51.50) per megawatt hour (MWh) in Britain in 2016,
Reuters data show, compared with around 39 euros ($41.26)/MWh in
Aquind also said on Monday it had signed an agreement with
RTE that would allow it to connect to the French grid at RTE's
Barnabos substation in the Haute-Normandie region.
It already has an agreement with National Grid to connect
with Britain's grid on the south coast of England.
Three other interconnectors with France are also in
development: National Grid and RTE's IFA 2, Transmission
Investment and RTE's FAB link, and Groupe Eurotunnel's
($1 = 0.8156 pounds)
($1 = 0.9453 euros)
(Reporting by Susanna Twidale; Editing by Mark Potter)