Worldenergy is developing an underground HVDC cross-border interconnector between Italy (Lombardy) and Switzerland (Graubünden) named the Greenconnector, while utilising existing infrastructure for the cable’s installation.
The practice can serve as a reference case for long distance installations inside pipelines and for cable laying on the bottom of closed lakes.
Renewable energy North and South of the Alps is weakly correlated; thus, the region would benefit greatly from removing any congestion bottlenecks and allowing bi-directional exchange of renewable electricity. The increase of the overall import-export capacity between Switzerland and Italy via the Greenconnector project will positively impact market integration, competition and system flexibility. As such large-scale grid infrastructure projects can often cause significant environmental impacts, project developers aim to develop approaches that try to minimise such impacts and eventually lead to higher public acceptance. This is especially true of the Alpine region, where new corridors are difficult to find and are environmentally sensitive because of the narrow valleys and attractive landscapes.
Greenconnector’s environmentally friendly approach consists of the use of an out of service oil pipeline for the cable’s installation, and cable laying on the bottom of a lake. These methods are expected to result in numerous technical, economic, environmental and visual impact benefits: from better cable protection and higher reliability, to significant reductions of installation cost and time, and from minimising ground and natural habitat disruption, to no cable visibility along the entire route and a reduced route length.