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Electricity Transmission Network

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 8 November 2018

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Questions (219)

Timmy Dooley


219. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of the Celtic interconnector project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46230/18]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

The Celtic Interconnector is an estimated €1 billion electricity interconnector jointly proposed by EirGrid and their French counterparts, the French transmission system operator, RTÉ (Reseau de Transporte d’Électricite). It is proposed as a 500km long (subsea), 700MW high voltage direct current line that would run from the north-west coast of France to the south coast of Ireland. At this scale it would be able to provide electricity for some 450,000 homes. The Celtic Interconnector has the potential to provide a reliable high-capacity electricity link between Ireland and France that would have significant benefits for the people of Ireland. The project would provide access to the European electricity market, leading to expected increased competition and lower prices in Ireland.  It would also improve security of electricity supply and facilitate increased capacity for renewable energy here via export access to the mainland European markets.

The project is currently in the initial design and pre-consultation phase which will run to later this year. The current phase includes land studies, marine studies considering the potential route of the interconnector, and specific nearshore analyses. EirGrid has also held public consultation events and has carried out a social impact assessment screening process that has led to a formal social impact assessment of the project. 

As a formally designated EU Project of Common Interest, EirGrid lodged an “investment request” with the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) for the Celtic Interconnector on 7 September 2018. This investment request will be considered by the CRU who will issue a decision on whether the project is in the public interest within six months. If the decision is a positive one and if is mirrored in France by the French regulator, then EirGrid and RTÉ will proceed to lodge an application for EU funding next year for a portion of the construction costs. The regulators will also reach a determination - a Cross Border Cost Allocation decision - on how the balance of the construction costs should be allocated between the two countries. To date the project has successfully secured EU funding of almost €8m for feasibility studies.

The cost of the interconnector will not be borne by the Exchequer - its cost, net of EU support, will be included in the costs of distribution networks in the same way as all other electricity infrastructure investments are paid for. Construction of the interconnector is expected to commence circa 2021 after a variety of approvals have been secured, including regulatory and planning consents. It is expected the interconnector will be completed in 2025/26.