An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar and Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton have today (Wednesday the 2nd of October) confirmed a €530 million investment in the Celtic Interconnector by the European Commission to link Ireland with Europe's energy grid.
The €1 billion Celtic Interconnector will connect Ireland's electricity network to France via an underwater connection. Once built, its 700 megawatts capacity will power 450,000 households, and help Ireland to switch to 70% renewable energy as set out in the Government's Climate Action Plan.
A vital part of Project Ireland 2040, the Interconnector is likely to drive down electricity prices for the consumer through increased competition. And because Ireland will be able to join the European Internal Energy market, higher levels of wind and renewable energy can be maintained.
Once Britain leaves the EU, Ireland will have no electricity interconnection with any member of the European Union. By providing a direct electricity link with mainland Europe, Ireland will be connected to the EU's Internal Energy Market post-Brexit.
An Taoiseach said: "This is a really significant investment for Ireland and will help us to conduct a magnificent feat of engineering. The Celtic Interconnector will help to lower electricity prices, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide greater energy security. It's a direct result of our close working relationship with the European Commission including President Juncker, and France and President Macron, who will be our closest EU neighbours following Brexit. It's a signal of European solidarity at this crucial time."
Minister Bruton said, "This vital piece of infrastructure is crucial to delivering the step up required to meet the climate challenge. As well as the clear benefits in terms of improved security and diversification of electricity supply, it will also, importantly, facilitate the further development of renewable energy, helping us meet our 70% target. We can also expect consumer prices to come down as operators work in a more competitive market."
The investment was secured under the EU's Connecting Europe Facility. The application was made possible by the status of the Celtic Interconnector as a Project of Common Interest (PCI). Projects with PCI status are recognised as essential for completing the European Internal Energy Market and for reaching the EU's energy policy objectives of affordable, secure and sustainable energy.
The project is being jointly developed by EirGrid and its French counterpart Réseau de Transport d'Électricité (RTE), and has, over several years, been supported by Ireland during the EU PCI process which has ultimately made the grant possible.
EirGrid's CEO, Mark Foley, said "The ambition of the Government's Climate Action Plan challenges EirGrid to evolve the grid to accommodate ever-increasing levels of renewables and interconnection is one of the key enablers to meet those challenges. Our staff are on the ground in Cork regularly, engaging with local communities and ensuring they have a real say in the project's design. With this grant and with the support of those communities we can envisage that construction on the project could start as early as 2022 and be completed by 2026."
Source: Press Release issued by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Government of Ireland on 2nd October 2019