EirGrid explores French power connection
EirGrid has entered into a partnership arrangement with French electricity provider Réseau de Transport d'Électricité (RTE) to provide €4m worth of investment to the Celtic Interconnector project.
The project involves the development of a potential electrical connection between Ireland and France, using cables that would run under the sea. The project would have a capacity of approximately 700 megawatts (MW), enough to power 450,000 households.
The Celtic Interconnector has been labelled a Project of Common Interest between the two countries, with both EirGrid - formerly the ESB - and its French counterpart sharing the cost of the current phase of the project.
The partnership is being undertaken in conjunction with the EU's Connecting Europe Facility, which is working towards the completion of an internal energy market.
The €4m investment will support the financing of an in-depth economic assessment of the viability of the project that will include technical and environmental studies.
The funding will also go towards pre-consultation activities ahead of possible permit applications in France and Ireland.
If built, the connection could help to drive down energy prices across in Ireland as well as supporting the country's transition to sustainable energy use.
"This is a substantial step forward for the project, and a clear endorsement from the European Commission of the Celtic Interconnector, and it's potential to integrate the European energy market and secure supply in Ireland into the long term," said Fintan Slye, ceo of EirGrid.
"A final decision as to whether or not to proceed with construction of the project would then be taken in 2020/2021. Should it progress, the interconnector would go live in 2025/2026," Mr Slye added.
Both companies will begin talks with regulators in Ireland and France next year relating to the outcome of the economic assessment.