NATIONAL grid operator EirGrid is to conduct an 18-month survey of the seabed between Ireland and France to see if a €1bn underwater power line can be built.
The company, with its French counterpart RTE, is seeking specialists to explore if a submarine interconnector up to 600kms long could run between both countries.
First revealed by the Irish Independent last June, consultants were appointed the following month to complete a study to identify possible routes along the seabed as well as landfall locations in Ireland and France.
The next phase of the study involves a technical survey of the seabed, and should begin in the second quarter of 2014 and be completed by the end of 2015. The power line would be used to export renewable energy to France -- and import power if required.
Desktop studies suggest the line is possible, but now both companies want to complete in-depth studies to help identify a route and potential barriers which could stop construction.
Two possible routes have already been identified -- from Knochraha near Roche's Point in Cork, to La Martyre on the west coast of Brittany; and the second from Great Island in Wexford, also to La Martyre.
It is also planning a second between the Republic and Northern Ireland, called the North South interconnector.