o create a more competitive continental economy, the European Union (EU)
needs to be interconnected. To build business across borders, freely flowing
electricity is a basic infrastructure requirement.
That’s why the EU launched a first-of-its-kind project to connect the power
grids of France and Spain. The €700 million power line, which burrows through
the Pyrenees Mountains, aims to double the energy exchange between the two
countries, increase energy security and ease one of the worst grid bottlenecks
At each end of the 65-kilometer (40-mile) power line, a converter substation
translates the line’s direct current (DC) flow into the alternating current (AC)
used by each country’s grid. When the project closed in mid-2015, it doubled
the interconnection capacity between France and Spain—and helped the European Union get one step closer to creating a continent-wide super grid.
To get the power lines operating on schedule, the project team built the two
converter substations at the same time. But designing these two stations, which
accounted for more than half of the project’s budget, required thinking outside