The North-South Interconnector is critical to improving the efficient operation of the all-island Integrated Single Electricity Market and increasing security of electricity supply in Ireland and Northern Ireland. It will also facilitate the achievement of the strategic objective, set out in the National Development Plan, 2021 - 2030, to generate up to 80% of our electricity from renewable sources by 2030. A resilient and well-connected energy infrastructure is vital for Ireland's economic well-being and the ability to respond to the future needs of energy consumers. Earlier this year I decided to commission a further short review to assess if the overall finding from the 2018 report remains valid. The terms of reference for this study which set out the scope of the review were published on my Department's website on 21 April. On 7 May, my Department initiated a procurement process to appoint independent experts to undertake the review. The initial vehicle was through an Office of Government Procurement framework procurement. This procurement received no bids. A second process was successful in securing the services of two leading Italian consultants in transmission grid infrastructure; this process involved the identification of potentially suitable candidates following engagements with agencies such as the European Commission and the International Energy Agency.
The consultants are now engaged on the review and their work is well advanced at this stage. The estimated cost of the review is just over €23,000. I expect the review will be completed later this year. Completion of the work in accordance with the terms of reference requires an expert review of the overall finding of the 2018 report rather than further engagement with any interested parties.