A €1bn subsea power cable linking Ireland to France will help drive down electricity prices for Irish consumers, government leaders said today as they signed an application for some €600m in European grant aid for the project.
Tánaiste Simon Coveney said the Celtic Interconnector, which will be able to import and export up to 700MW of electricity - enough to power around 450,000 homes - will allow Ireland to buy and import cheaper electricity from France and, in due course, export Irish-produced renewable energy to Europe.
It will be Ireland’s first direct electricity link to continental Europe.
“From an energy security point of view, from a price and competition point of view, and from a renewables perspective, this is a big story for Ireland,” he said.
He was speaking at the formal signing of the joint grant application by Ireland’s electricity grid operator, EirGrid, and its French counterpart, Réseau de Transport d’Electricité, (RTÉ) for its Celtic Interconnector project in Midleton, East Cork.
The cable is due to make landfall at one of three locations east of the town.
The application was signed by Mark Foley, chief executive of EirGrid, and Francois Brottes, chairman of the executive board of RTÉ, at a ceremony attended by Richard Bruton, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, and France’s Minister for Ecological and Inclusive Transition, Francois de Rugy.
Minister Bruton described it as a crucial project in the context of Ireland’s plan to respond to climate change.
“Not only is it important for the security of our energy supply in the years to come, but it will enable us to reach our ambitious renewable electricity target of 70% by 2030, greatly reducing our reliance on fossil fuels,” he said.
This signing follows a similar event in Brussels on Tuesday with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and France’s President Emmanuel Macron where they signed a letter offering their respective governments’ support for the project.
Since 2011, EirGrid and RTÉ have completed several feasibility studies on the interconnector, which will run from the Brittany coast, close to the city of Brest, and land in East Cork.
EirGrid is currently running an eight-week public consultation on the three possible landfall sites, at Ballinwilling Strand in Ballycotton Bay, and at Claycastle Beach and Redbarn Beach, south of Youghal.
It is also seeking feedback on the shortlist of six possible zones north-west of Midleton for a converter station, which will be required to convert the electricity between DC and AC.
The companies will spend next year working through the planning process, with construction of the cable due to take place from 2022 to 2026.