I propose to take Questions Nos. 27, 58 and 62 together.
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 goal 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. As with any project of such scale and significance, I routinely discuss the project with my officials, colleagues within Government and in other jurisdictions and other interested parties.
The option of undergrounding the North-South Interconnector has been comprehensively assessed on several occasions. Most recently, the key finding from the International Expert Commission's report of October 2018 was that an overhead line remains the most appropriate option for this critical electricity infrastructure.
Notwithstanding this, 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 were published on my Department's website on 21 April. On 7 May, my Department initiated a procurement process to appoint an independent expert to undertake the review. International consultants are now engaged on the review and their work is well advanced at this stage. I expect the review will be completed later this year.
I am advised by EirGrid that the North-South Interconnector and the Kildare-Meath Grid upgrade are not comparable as they are two very different projects from a technical standpoint. The North-South Interconnector is almost three times the length of the Kildare-Meath line, which at 50kms is at the distance limit of the technical capability of an underground alternating current line (that is proposed for Kildare-Meath).