Environment News

Ambitious Electricity Interconnection Plans as Ireland Aims to Become Net Energy Exporter

The Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan, has welcomed Cabinet approval of a new policy statement on electricity interconnection which plans to make Ireland central to Europe’s energy future.

The proposed plans will see Ireland increase its electricity interconnection capacity and explore new interconnection opportunities with Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands as well as further connections to both Great Britain and France. Electricity Interconnectors provide a way to share electricity between countries and proposed new interconnection developments, aligned with the State’s growing renewable energy sector, could allow Ireland to become a net exporter of electricity.

The National Policy Statement on Electricity Interconnection, which was approved by Cabinet, also outlines how a state-directed approach will ensure integrated forward planning, enabling the necessary infrastructure to unlock significant green energy export opportunities. Ireland’s offshore energy potential makes it central to Europe’s shared energy future. The role of interconnection will increase in importance as the renewable energy sector becomes a larger proportion of supply in the Irish and European electricity system, both in relation to the import and export of electricity. Increased ‘interconnection’ helps balance electricity supply and demand between countries and provides a valuable back-up power supply for when electricity systems have reduced capacity. New interconnections will also allow for increased energy imports in the case of an adverse shock, which may occur during extreme weather events.

The key aspects of Ireland’s new policy on electricity interconnection include:

  • Specifically supporting a further connection to Great Britain by 2030 beyond the completion of the Greenlink interconnector.
  • To provide consideration to the following further projects: a second connection with France beyond the Celtic Interconnector; a connection to Spain; a further connection to Great Britain beyond 2030 and a connection to Belgium or the Netherlands.
  • A commitment to develop an Offshore Transmission Strategy and to explore the potential for multipurpose interconnectors in order to maximise export opportunities and facilitate offshore renewable energy development.
  • The Integration of interconnector forward planning with new phases in offshore renewable energy developments, including supporting inputs into proposed Designated Maritime Area Plans (DMAPs) at local and regional areas.
  • Consideration will also be given to further interconnection required to support the export of renewable electricity in the context of other uses, such as green hydrogen.

Welcoming the publication of the Policy Statement, Minister Ryan said, “increased electricity interconnection will be a key enabler in our growing use of renewable energy. It will also play an important role in our transition to become a net energy exporter, making Ireland central to wider European energy plans.”

“The integrated forward planning approach outlined within this policy statement, will be aligned with offshore renewable energy forward planning, enabling the delivery of necessary infrastructure to facilitate our energy ambitions. It will also better integrate European electricity markets, and by using more diversified energy markets, this will improve our electricity security and resilience. Our approach will also help lower energy prices and play a central role in Ireland’s journey to a Net Zero power system.”

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