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Leadership Merry-go-round Halted UK’s Energy Project in the Sahara

An £18bn project to connect Britain with a huge wind and solar farm in the Sahara through an undersea cable has been delayed by at least a year because of political ructions in Westminster. The energy startup Xlinks hopes to provide 8% of Britain’s electricity supplies through a 3,800km cable linking Morocco with the UK, powering 7m homes by 2030. The project had been expected to begin generating power by 2027. However, that target date now appears unlikely. The Xlinks’ executive chair, Sir Dave Lewis, a former chief executive of Tesco, warned that the recent political turmoil that has seen off three prime ministers in less than six months has stalled its progress. He has been trying to secure a government “contract for difference” – a mechanism under which public subsidies are used to offer low-carbon generators, such as windfarms, a fixed price for power. The cable transporting power from the site will hug the Moroccan coastline, then pass alongside Portugal, northern Spain and France before looping around the Isles of Scilly to terminate at Alverdiscott in north Devon, where Xlinks has already agreed to 1.8 gigawatt connections. Morocco has an established wind, solar and hydroelectric power industry, and its solar intensity, a measure of generation power, is second only to Egypt and double that of the UK, according to data from Xlinks.