Pipe dream to reality: Moroccan green power for 7m UK homes

We’re investing in the world’s largest subsea cables to bring cheap green power from Morocco to 7 million homes in the UK.

You've probably heard this mind-blowing factoid before – if we covered 1.2% of the Sahara desert in solar panels, we’d have enough renewable energy to power the world. Now, that’s getting closer to reality.

Xlinks have started an ambitious project to build the world’s longest subsea cables to bring renewable power generated in the Saharan desert to UK homes. These massive cables – four of them to be exact, each 3,800 km long – will stretch under the sea from the deserts of Morocco to the beaches of Devon.

We're proud to be backing their incredible undertaking – and we wanted to tell you a little more about it.

Wind farm on a sunny day

What are Xlinks building?

A mega renewable energy farm covering 570 square miles of the Moroccan desert. That's a space larger than Greater London, covered in 13 million solar panels, 530 wind turbines, as well as 5GW battery storage. That’s an enormous amount of power: enough for 8% of the UK’s electricity needs. To get specific, the farm will be capable of generating 10GW of power – enough to power 7 million homes which is equal to London, Manchester and Leeds combined!

Best of all, the combination of wind, solar and batteries, and the powerful Moroccan sun, means the site will be able to generate a reliable, consistent supply of green electrons all day, every day. Each evening, as the sun starts to set on the Western Sahara, the wind picks up from the Atlantic and blows powerfully through the night. This, together with battery storage to fill any gaps, means this renewable site generates power 24/7 unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.

Reliability is one of the inherent challenges of renewables – you can’t tell the wind to blow or the sun to shine – and creative solutions like this one are part of the key to unlocking a 100% green system.

An infographic describing the xlinks project and mega renewable farm

Creating 10,000 green jobs in Morocco

Morocco already has some of the world's largest clean energy projects and renewable energy makes up almost two-fifths of the country's electricity. Basking in the Saharan glow, it's truly no wonder the capital city Marrakech is named after an ancient sun God people once worshipped.

Many African nations, from Kenya to Morocco, are showing the way towards a green energy transition, with their abundance of natural resources and investment in large-scale projects that will benefit the whole world.

Projects like this one, that transfer energy from places where it's abundant to places that need it, are key if we hope to reach Net Zero. Even better: this sort of project means Morocco can directly benefit from exporting a renewable power source they have in abundance – a truly global and sustainable energy future.

Excitingly, the project will bring 10,000 jobs in green energy and engineering to local communities. Local UK communities will also benefit during the project as the cables will be built by XLCC in a new factory in Hunterston, Scotland that will double Europe's current production of HVDC cable manufacturing.

Repurposing proven technology and knowledge

What's great about this project is that it takes age-old oil and gas expertise and uses it for greener good. Leaders at Xlinks previously worked to build the world’s longest subsea interconnector between the UK and Norway. Other investors in this project like the Abu Dhabi energy giant TAQA, have decades of experience building oil and gas pipelines across the world. We can use their tried and tested techniques to transport green power around the world.

This project is magic because it’s all proven technology - on a huge and ambitious scale. The renewables revolution has not just begun, it’s now accelerating at an unprecedented pace for the good of the people and the planet

Greg Jackson

Investing in innovative green energy solutions like these, is at the core of our mission to make clean, green energy accessible to all. The pipeline project will be complete by 2027 when Saharan energy will begin to power UK homes. Harnessing the global power of the sun and wind to bring affordable, green energy to UK homes is a dream come true.

We'll be sharing more details about this project as it unfolds, so watch this space...

Published on 4th July 2023 by:

image of Samsam Farah

Samsam Farah


Hey I'm Constantine, welcome to Octopus Energy!