In July 2018, my Department published a National Policy Statement on Electricity Interconnection. This sets out the official policy position on electricity interconnection and outlines the many drivers and benefits of interconnection.
The East-West Interconnector connects Ireland and Great Britain and has a transfer capacity of 500MW. It has been in operation since 2012 and allows the trading of electricity between the island of Ireland and British wholesale electricity markets. From a north-south perspective, there is currently one interconnector with a practical capacity of 300MW.
There are currently a number of other proposed interconnectors, all of which are recognised as Projects of Common Interest (PCI) by the European Commission. PCIs are key infrastructure projects that link the energy systems of EU countries and are intended to help the EU achieve its energy policy and climate objectives.
The Celtic Interconnector is a 700MW electricity interconnector proposed to run from the east coast of Cork while Greenlink is a 500MW interconnector that is proposed to run from Wexford to Wales. In addition, there is a proposed second North South Interconnector which has full planning permission in Ireland following the conclusion of a number of legal proceedings. In Northern Ireland, following legal challenges there, the project has yet to conclude the planning process for the section of the project that lies in Armagh and Tyrone.
Interconnection is a key enabler in delivering on Ireland’s decarbonisation ambitions. Recent scenario planning by EirGrid (EirGrid’s Tomorrow’s Energy Scenarios 2017) estimates that Ireland requires between 500 and 1950 MW of interconnection by 2030 in order to deliver on its renewable energy ambitions.