EirGrid hits ‘critical milestone’ in €1bn Celtic Interconnector project

16 Jul 2021

Image: © Kampan/Stock.adobe.com

Following years of planning, the agency has sought planning permission to build a direct energy connection to France.

EirGrid has today (16 July) submitted a planning application for its Celtic Interconnector Project, which will see a €1bn power line connect Ireland directly to France.

The submission follows a multiyear process of technical assessments and engagement from the local community.

If approved, the €1bn power line to France would prepare the Irish grid to carry 70pc of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

All going well, construction is set to start in 2022 with a completion date planned for 2026. Once completed, its 700MW capacity is expected to power 450,000 households.

The interconnector will land at Claycastle Beach near Youghal in Cork. From there, an underground cable will run inland on the national road and continue on local roads to the east and north of Midleton to a converter station, which will be built at Ballyadam.

The final connection will be by underground cable from Ballyadam to a substation on the national grid at Knockraha.

The Irish Government first revealed plans for the project in 2016, which had already been worked on between EirGrid and its French counterpart Réseau de Transport d’Électricité (RTE) for a number of years previous.

In 2019, the threat of Brexit raised concerns over a potential energy crisis. However, the EU stepped in with a contribution of €530m to the Celtic Interconnector project, more than half the total cost.

‘A critical milestone’

EirGrid’s chief infrastructure officer, Michael Mahon, said submitting the planning application is a “critical milestone” for the Celtic Interconnector project.

“The delivery of this project will bring a number of benefits, including increasing Ireland’s security of electricity supply by providing a direct connection to another EU country. It will also strengthen the Irish electricity grid and help us to deliver a cleaner energy future,” he said.

As Ireland’s national electricity operator, EirGrid is responsible for ensuring the national grid is able to handle what’s asked of it on any given day as well as prepare for future plans.

One of those future plans includes the Government’s goal of reaching 70pc renewable energy generation by 2030 under the National Energy and Climate Plan, which the Celtic Interconnector project will help it achieve.

Speaking to Siliconrepublic.com last year, EirGrid’s CEO, Mark Foley, said the operator is expanding its outreach internationally beyond France and the UK, including trying to learn from global renewable leaders such as Denmark.

“We’re in big outreach mode and we also intend to establish technical partnerships with global players, technology companies to come in here, work with us and help us on this journey to deliver a green power system,” Foley said.

EirGrid is also leading EU-Sysflex, a European consortium that aims to address the needs of the pan-European power system that can service a low-carbon, renewable energy-driven Europe.

The consortium received funding under Horizon 2020 and involves 34 organisations from 15 countries across Europe with a budget of €26m.

John Lowry, project manager of EU-Sysflex and EirGrid, told Siliconrepublic.com that the project will help inform future EU policy direction and design of future projects in research and innovation.

“Ultimately, we intend on providing a roadmap for Europe to help power system operators implementing system operation and flexibility solutions required to meet our renewable ambition,” he said.

Jenny Darmody is the editor of Silicon Republic