Report to raise questions about financial benefits of Eirgrid powerlines

Fresh questions are set to be raised about the financial reasoning behind Eirgrid’s proposed powerline routes, with a warning that the case for exporting wind power to Britain is “non-existent”.

A new report will this week call in to question the Government’s energy policy and specifically Eirgrid’s €3.2bn plan — Grid 25 —to build hundreds of new pylons around the country.

Sections of the report seen by the Irish Examiner warn that any exporting of wind power to Britain following the grid extension will not work as Ireland’s prices will be too expensive.

It also warns that a doubling of Ireland’s wind power output, which Eirgrid says is needed, could “destabilise” the entire network and even result in “power blackouts”.

Consultants BW Energy carried out the report for Rethink Pylons, a campaign group opposed to Eirgrid’s current plan to extend the national transmission grid. The report does not focus on the health or visual aspects of Eirgrid’s project but rather questions the “financial reasoning” behind Grid25. It also asks if the strategy has been properly conceived.

The report says that the financial case for Irish wind power exports to Britain is “weak to non-existent”.

Eirgrid have said that there will be a “considerable” surplus of electricity generated over the coming decade here, and even that up to 75% of power could be generated from wind. Ireland signed an agreement last year to export wind energy to Britain.

The Rethink Pylons-commissioned report adds: “Any Irish wind power exports will be in direct competition with other potential renewable energy generators in Britain. Irish exports are only likely to win the auctions if the price delivered to Britain is lower than the alternative, which is likely to be UK offshore wind. The British Government has already indicated that it will not agree to UK offshore wind contracts priced at over £100/MWh in 2020 (or €120/MWh). It is unlikely that any additional Irish exports could meet this target price.”

The BW Energy report says that the eventual price of Irish exported power will be closer to €140/MWh.

The report, to be released on Thursday, will also discuss how huge increases in wind power output could “destabilise” the entire network, risking power ‘blackouts’.

Meanwhile, the Oireachtas Environment committee will hear today from industry bodies about the generation of electricity in Ireland and the potential export of surplus power to Britain.

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