Funding from the EU has brought the Republic of Ireland a step closer to a direct link with the EU’s Internal Electricity Market. Irish links with the bloc are currently all indirect, as all its current interconnectors link it with the GB or Northern Ireland markets.
The €530 million investment in the Celtic Interconnector was secured under the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility. The application was made possible by the status of the Celtic Interconnector as a Project of Common Interest (PCI). Projects with PCI status are recognised as essential for completing the European Internal Energy Market and for reaching the EU’s energy policy objectives of affordable, secure and sustainable energy.
The project is being jointly developed by EirGrid and its French counterpart Réseau de Transport d’Électricité (RTE), and has, over several years, been supported by Ireland during the EU PCI process which has ultimately made the grant possible.
EirGrid’s chief executive Mark Foley, said, “The ambition of the government’s Climate Action Plan challenges EirGrid to evolve the grid to accommodate ever-increasing levels of renewables and interconnection is one of the key enablers to meet those challenges. … we can envisage that construction on the project could start as early as 2022 and be completed by 2026.”
An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said, “This is a really significant investment for Ireland and will help us to conduct a magnificent feat of engineering. The Celtic Interconnector will help to lower electricity prices, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide greater energy security. It’s a direct result of our close working relationship with the European Commission including President Juncker, and France and President Macron, who will be our closest EU neighbours following Brexit. It’s a signal of European solidarity at this crucial time.”
The €1 billion Celtic Interconnector will connect Ireland’s electricity network to France via an underwater connection. Once built, its 700MW capacity will help Ireland to switch to 70% renewable energy as set out in the government’s Climate Action Plan.