EirGrid plans €1bn power link to France
National grid operator EirGrid is planning a €1bn high-voltage power line connecting Ireland with France capable of transmitting enough electricity for 450,000 homes.
The 600km Celtic Interconnector would run from the south coast to the north-west of France, and is being developed with EirGrid's French counterpart, Réseau de Transport d'Électricité (RTE).
The line would allow for increased electricity trading within Europe, increasing competition; help export renewable energy; and increase security of supply.
Work has been ongoing since 2011, funded on a 50/50 basis, and seabed surveys have now been completed, EirGrid chief executive Fintan Slye said.
The Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) last week approved spending of €4m on the 700MW line, with work now under way on the construction costs and benefits.
Mr Slye added that a final decision will be taken in 2020 by EirGrid, RTE and their respective shareholders, including the Irish Government.
"Post-Brexit, it takes on added importance," he said. "We finished the feasibility stage and initial seabed surveys. The next phase is about finalising the estimated construction costs, and working out the economic benefit case for Ireland, France and in a European context.
"That will take up to the end of next year, at which point there will be a decision and the key question is whether it delivers benefits for consumers in Ireland and France."
Mr Slye said the estimated construction costs were "slightly less" than €1bn, and the question mark over who funded the bill - assuming the project is approved - would depend on which jurisdiction benefited.
"The construction costs rely on where the benefits fall. If you fund it 50/50, the benefits flow 50/50," he said.