I propose to take Questions Nos. 51 and 58 together.
I am surprised that the Deputy is suggesting that we would isolate our grid in that way. One of the constraints on introducing renewables into our grid is the lack of interconnection. The single electricity market for the island of Ireland has brought many economic and social benefits, both North and South. It depends on the degree of interconnection. Currently, just 300 MW of electricity supply across the existing North-South interconnector is permitted to ensure that electricity is securely provided to customers. The new North-South interconnector will facilitate substantial increases in capacity transfers, thereby facilitating a more effective single electricity market.
Interconnection helps to ensure that only the most efficient and low-carbon generation is brought into the grid. The interconnector also substantially increases the capacity to connect up to an estimated 900 MW of renewables to our grid. Currently, 30% of our electricity comes from renewables, but as part of our strategy to meet our climate commitments, we need to almost double that proportion as Deputy Canney outlined.
The North-South interconnector has been subject to economic analysis and the benefit-to-cost ratio is very positive. The interconnector is expected to bring savings in the single electricity market of €20 million per annum from its inception, rising to between €40 million and €60 million per annum by 2030. Much of these savings result from reductions in network constraints that will accrue from its delivery.
While the project has received planning consent in Ireland and Northern Ireland, these decisions are subject to ongoing legal challenges in both jurisdictions. The development of the interconnector, including associated procurement activities, are operational matters for EirGrid and ESB Networks.
The generation capacity statement 2018 covers both Northern Ireland and Ireland, and is produced jointly between SONI and EirGrid. This is in line with their regulatory requirements to publish forecast information about the power system, including an assessment of the balance between supply and demand. The generation capacity statement is updated annually to ensure an adequate capacity is available in the market on an all-island basis and to plan accordingly.
I am advised that the increase in generation capacity as shown in the generation capacity statement published by the transmission system operator does not impact on the need for the interconnector. It is also important to note that the increase in Northern Ireland generation capacity shown is likely to be temporary in nature. The main increase is from the assumed continued availability of the coal-fired Kilroot generating units and two of the older and less efficient Ballylumford units. The long-term continued operation of these generators is not sustainable in the context of decarbonisation of the industry. In fact, since the generation capacity statement was published, the Utility Regulator for Northern Ireland granted derogation requests on 9 November to AES for the two Ballylumford units, totalling 250 MW, from the requirement to give three years’ notice of closure.