An Bord Pleanála today granted the state-owned electricity grid operator EirGrid permission to build an 500 megawatt (MW) electricity interconnector between Ireland and Wales.
Swedish engineering firm ABB will start building the East-West Interconnector in 2010 in a project that will take two years to complete and will create 100 jobs.
Once complete in 2012, the new electricity link will allow two-way transmission of power between Ireland and Wales and will also enable Ireland to be an exporter of renewable power.
The East-West Interconnector will be about 260 km long and capable of carrying 500MW of electricity – the equivalent to supplying power to about 300,000 homes. This capacity approximates to 10pc of peak daily electricity demand in winter in Ireland.
The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Eamon Ryan TD welcomed today’s news: “The East-West Interconnector is vital infrastructure for our country and will bring many benefits. Connection to the UK will enhance the security of our energy supply. It will mean we can import electricity when required from the UK market. More importantly, it will mean we can export our electricity to the UK. When the wind is blowing in Ireland, we can sell this power to our neighbours.
“Interconnection will also increase competition in the electricity sector, which will benefit consumers in the long run, placing downward pressure on prices,” he said.
“This project will allow us to accelerate our development of renewable energy. We are rich in renewable power; we need to develop this to secure our energy supplies. This project will also help the development of the green economy, bringing investment and jobs to Ireland in the growing renewable power industry. This investment from Europe is a significant boost to the Irish economy. It brings us one step closer to energy independence.”
The project will involve the construction of a converter station in Woodland, Co Meath, and the installation of underground cables, mainly in public roads, to the coast at Rush, Co Dublin, about 45km in length and in the seabed out to the foreshore limit.
“Today’s announcement is a major milestone for the project,” said EirGrid Chief Executive Dermot Byrne. “Extensive preparation has been under way over the past two years involving marine surveys, route selection, public engagement, route amendments and pre-application consultation, and now we have the green light to proceed to deliver this vital infrastructure for Ireland, on track and on time.
“As an island of five million people that is over 90pc dependent on imported fossil fuels for our energy, we have an immediate and pressing need to improve our security of supply, and to enhance our capacity to generate renewable energy. The East-West Interconnector will help us do both,” Byrne said.
By Jennifer Yau, via www.businessandleadership.com
Photo: The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Eamon Ryan TD.