Underground line for Grid West to cost twice as much as pylons
Published 21/07/2015 | 02:30
Building an underground power line to add capacity to the electricity network in the north west will cost almost €480m - twice the cost of constructing the line using pylons.
National grid operator EirGrid will today reveal that the underground option for the 113km Grid West project also provides "limited flexibility" to add additional connections, and will be more expensive to repair in the event of faults.
A report on the project, seen by the Irish Independent, comes after the Government ordered the national grid operator to consider undergrounding all or part of the line.
The line is planned between Roscommon and north-west Mayo, and would allow up to 2,000 MW of wind generation to come on-stream.
Earlier this year an independent expert panel appointed by the Government examined the analysis, and found it was "complete and objective". A public consultation process will begin in the autumn. The underground option runs along local and regional roads from Moygownagh in Mayo, between Crossmolina and Ballina, down the east side of Lough Conn, north-east of Foxford and north of Charlestown, Ballaghaderreen and Frenchpark in County Roscommon to the Flagford substation area, south-west of Carrick-on-Shannon.
The analysis found that the project would run along local roads, resulting in no visual impact, but would require two converter stations to be constructed at both ends. It is estimated to cost €476.8m.
Three other options were also considered. These would have the maximum impact on the landscape, communities and tourism.
The first option involves a high-voltage line constructed on steel towers along much the same route, with a sub-station at Moygownagh. Some 8kms of line would be underground at Flagford to reduce visual impact. This would cost €222.1m.
Two other lower voltage lines have also been considered - one overground, with 8kms underground at Flagford, and a second with 30kms underground in total. The latter option has "added complexity" and the technology has not been used in Ireland before. These options will cost €207.4m and €249m.
EirGrid says the project is needed to bolster the electricity transmission system to allow more renewables, and that wind farm projects from Coillte, Bord na Mona and the ESB, which could supply power for up to 1.7 million homes, are awaiting connection.
Opponents insist that a high-capacity line is not needed, and that an overhead line will impact on tourism. The ultimate cost of the project will be borne by customers.
Bord na Mona faces "significant challenges" to increase profits
Bord na Mona faces "significant challenges" to increase profits. It faces challenges from the carbon tax, private sale of timber and turf and cross border fuel trading.
The company recorded an operating profit of €52.4m for the year ended March 2015.
But it warned that the environment in which it works is under "increasing pressure" due to "the lack of a level playing field" and "lack of consistent application" of regulations.
The semi-state company paid a dividend to the State of €10.6m last year, and plans to invest €40m over the three years on new projects including wind farms.