EirGrid has welcomed yesterday’s decision by the European Commission to provide €530 million of funding to the Celtic Interconnector, a high-voltage electricity cable linking Ireland and France.
The decision follows the submission in June of an application for funding by project developers EirGrid and its French counterpart Réseau de Transport d’Electricité (RTE). The two companies submitted the application under the Commission’s 2019 Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) Energy Programme.
EirGrid and RTE estimate it will cost in the order of €1 billion to build the interconnector which will provide Ireland’s first direct electricity link to Continental Europe. It will be able to import and export up to 700 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 450,000 homes, and will go live in 2026.
Mark Foley, EirGrid Chief Executive, said: “The Celtic Interconnector is a key part of our strategic goal to transform Ireland’s power system. In the coming years we will break new ground in the amount of renewable electricity we manage on the electricity system.
“Interconnection with France supports this as it makes the power system more resilient and efficient. This added strength will become increasingly important as renewables become the primary energy source on the national grid.”
Mr Foley added that the Celtic Interconnector would also apply downward pressure on the cost of electricity to consumers in Ireland and provide a direct fibre optic communications link between Ireland and France.
François Brottes, Chairman of the executive board of RTE, said: “The support of the European commission for this electricity interconnector between France and Ireland is a major step forward in the development of an always sustainable, cost efficient, resilient and integrated European grid which will enable the transition to a low carbon energy future.”
Since 2011, EirGrid and RTE have carried out series of joint studies into the feasibility of the interconnector. Should the proposed interconnector successfully pass through the planning process, the studies indicate that it would benefit electricity customers in Ireland, France and the EU.
The interconnector will travel 575 kilometres from East Cork to the north-west coast of Brittany.
The European Commission has already designated the Celtic Interconnector a Project of Common Interest (PCI). PCIs are key cross-border projects that link the energy systems of EU countries.
Minister for for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton; Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys; Taoiseach Leo Varadkar; Stéphane Crouzat, French Ambassador to Ireland; and Mark Foley EirGrid Group Chief Executive pictured at the announcement of the funding in Government Buildings.