Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Questions (394)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

394. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will provide details of any future plans by EirGrid to construct high-capacity transmission lines in western Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9807/13]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

EirGrid’s Grid25 programme is a strategy designed to develop the transmission networks in order to ensure safe, secure and affordable electricity supplies throughout Ireland supporting economic growth, renewable and sustainable energy. The Government endorses this major investment programme currently underway in the high voltage electricity transmission system. Grid25 is the most important investment in Ireland’s transmission system for several generations and will position our energy system for decades to come.

The transmission system in Ireland, managed and operated by EirGrid, consists of three voltage levels of high capacity lines. It is operated at 400 kV, 220 kV and 110 kV.

In 2012 significant progress was made in a number of Grid25 regions in relation to construction, uprating and refurbishment of over 200km of existing circuits and there is currently 2000 megawatts of wind power installed on the Island of Ireland.

Significant progress has been made on the Grid West project since it was launched in May 2012 and extensive public consultation has occurred over the last 9 months. The project will be moving to a key stage in the coming weeks with the publication of the Stage 1 Report which will indicate a number of potential corridors that can accommodate this new transmission line following all the information on the study area gathered today. EirGrid is encouraging anyone with an interest in the project to participate in the upcoming consultation.

The Grid West project will initially consist of a new high capacity power line, but based on the region’s renewable potential, it is envisaged that in time, a second line will be required. The pace of installation of the second line is dependent on a number of factors including the speed at which further renewable energy generation is developed in the region.

EirGrid is also developing a West Galway project consisting of a new 110kV electricity substation to allow renewable generation to connect to the transmission grid. The project calls for a new electrical substation to connect into a planned 110kV distribution line running from Salthill to Screeb, County Galway. The project will increase security of energy supply to the region and enable Galway to be a net exporter of renewable energy. A planning application is expected to be submitted shortly to An Bord Pleanála.

From the south west to the north west of Ireland, to meet requirements of customers and generators, EirGrid is currently upgrading and developing new high capacity lines and stations, many of which have recently obtained planning permission. Where possible, EirGrid aims to maximise existing network to accommodate increased line capacity.

Jointly with NIE (Northern Ireland Electricity), EirGrid is progressing the RIDP project (Renewable Integration Development Project) aimed at facilitating the development of renewable energy in Donegal and Northern Ireland.

EirGrid is constantly reviewing grid development requirements and produces information to inform market participants, customers, and policy makers regarding the generation capacity required to achieve an adequate supply and demand balance across Ireland.

EirGrid has published its plans to upgrade and develop extensively the transmission system in Ireland, and has recently undertaken a briefing for all Oireachtas members with regard to progress made on Grid25. EirGrid would be happy to meet with any members of the Oireachtas in relation to any aspects of Grid25.

Questions Nos. 395 to 398, inclusive, answered with Question No. 389.