Environment & Energy

Ireland and France mark beginning of construction work on 'Celtic Interconnector' and sign joint energy declaration

From Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications 

Published on 13 November 2023

Last updated on 17 November 2023

 

The Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan, and French Energy Minister, Agnès Pannier-Runacher, have marked the commencement of construction work on the Celtic Interconnector project. The acknowledgement of the project’s commencement took place at the EirGrid offices in Dublin, following a visit by Minister Pannier-Runacher to Ireland on 13 November.

The start of construction on the project signifies an important step forward for the energy future of both countries. The Celtic Interconnector is a high-voltage subsea power cable that will link the electricity grids of Ireland and France. It will include enough capacity to power 450,000 homes and will create a direct electricity link from Ireland to the European Union.

EirGrid, the state-owned transmission system operator (TSO), is working with its French equivalent, Réseau de Transport d’Electricité (RTE), to deliver the 700-megawatt submarine cable, with connection points between the southern coast of Ireland and the northwest coast of France. The project is due to be completed in 2026 with integration to the grid expected by 2027.

Electricity interconnectors provide a way to share electricity between countries and the role of interconnection will increase in importance as the renewable energy sector becomes a larger proportion of supply in the Irish and European electricity system. The Celtic Interconnector will also form part of the Offshore Network Development Plan, intended to develop an integrated energy system for European energy markets. The European Commission is contributing €530.7 million from the commission’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) to help complete the design and delivery of the project. Contracts for the Celtic Interconnector were signed in November 2022, in Paris. The acknowledgement of the start of construction on the project by both Minister Ryan and Minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher, coincides with a visit to Ireland by the French Prime Minister, Élisabeth Borne, to Dublin on 13 November.

 

Ireland and France sign Joint Declaration of Intent on ‘Energy Transition Cooperation’

On 13 November, Ireland and France also signed a Joint Declaration of Intent on ‘Energy Transition Cooperation’. The declaration provides a framework for the mutual willingness of both countries to accelerate the decarbonisation of energy systems, and is part of a wider collective ambition for Europe to become the first climate neutral continent by 2050.

The Joint Declaration of Intent also builds upon existing commitments set out in the ‘Ireland France Joint Plan of Action 2021-2025’, adopted by both countries in August 2021. The joint action plan set out several priority projects in a number of areas, including efforts to support sustainability, with a focus on ‘renewable energy’. It signals greater co-operation on on-shore wind and solar development and a commitment to accelerating the deployment of offshore renewables and energy systems, including intensifying cooperation bilaterally and regionally in the North Sea.

Welcoming the commencement of construction on the Celtic Interconnection project, and the Joint Declaration of Intent, Minister Ryan said:

"I warmly welcome Minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher, along with her French colleagues to Dublin today, as we continue to strengthen our relationship with our nearest EU neighbour. Their visit, along with the signing of this Joint Declaration of Intent on Energy Transition Cooperation, symbolises our mutual desire to take our relations to another level. What we have set out in this declaration makes clear that both Ireland and France will be central to wider European energy plans.

"The commencement of construction on the Celtic Interconnector project marks an important part of our wider energy ambitions. Increased electricity interconnection will be a key enabler in our growing use of renewable energy will also help lower energy prices and play a central role in Ireland’s journey to a net zero power system. It will also better integrate European electricity markets, and by using more diversified energy markets, this will improve our electricity security and resilience."

French Energy Minister, Agnès Pannier-Runacher, said:

"I am very happy and honoured to visit Ireland today. This visit will enable the development of the very close and friendly relations between France and Ireland on energy and climate change. The joint declaration on energy I will sign with my Irish colleague Eamon Ryan will deepen the working relations between our two ministries. I will also be thrilled to inaugurate the Celtic Interconnector, which will increase the security of supply both for Ireland and France and contribute to the decarbonisation of our electricity mixes. This visit will enable us to prepare our future work together: this involves in particular our preparation of COP28, but also our joint co-chairing of the International Energy Agency ministerial in February 2024. Finally, I would like to thank the Irish technicians at ESB networks, who came to France recently to help repair the recent damages of the Ciaran storm."

ENDS

 

Notes to the Editor

 

Joint Declaration of Intent

Key aspects of the new Joint Declaration of Intent on Energy Transition Cooperation include:

  • In the near term, both countries will endeavour to make progress on the assessment of the opportunity for increasing electricity interconnection capacities, building on the ongoing work at EU level on the Offshore Network Development Plan which is due to be published early next year. Should that assessment indicate that a second interconnector could be considered, the signatories would be positively disposed to the TSOs advancing towards a prefeasibility study to progress towards a second interconnector
  • Increased cooperation on areas of onshore energy development: including the sharing of information on the design of onshore renewable energy auctions; seeking innovative ways to increase the uptake of rooftop solar; and sharing best practices on the permitting of onshore renewable energy projects
  • Offshore energy: A commitment to accelerate the deployment of offshore renewables and offshore renewable energy systems, including intensifying cooperation on offshore energy, bilaterally and regionally in the North Sea
  • A willingness to jointly assess how hybrid Interconnectors (which allow clusters of offshore wind farms to connect all at once, plugging into the energy systems of neighbouring countries) and other cross border projects could contribute to further market integration and future sector coupling
  • Following the signing a Memorandum of Understanding by the TSO operators, EirGrid and RTE on November 13, 2023, both countries intend to establish specific cooperation frameworks at Ministry and regulator levels to facilitate mutually beneficial offshore transmission and market integration arrangements
  • Planned discussions on potential measures for ports to enhance offshore wind development; and the skills and workforce requirements of offshore wind development
  • Recognise that hydrogen produced by electrolysis has the potential to become a zero-carbon substitute for fossil fuels in many hard to decarbonise sectors. Both countries will endeavour to foster and deepen their dialogue on methods and the role that hydrogen produced by electrolysis will play in the French and Irish energy systems
  • Both countries will also deepen collaboration between respective energy agencies. This follows the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding by the French Agency for Ecological Transition (ADEME) and Sustainable Energy authority of Ireland (SEAI). Collaboration will include exchanging best practices and identifying research/innovation opportunities to collaborate on. Collaboration areas include renewable electricity, decarbonised heat, energy efficiency, transport, climate change
  • The sharing of best practices to address other challenges, such as social acceptance of renewable energy projects and delays associated to planning
  • Both Ireland and France also intend to promote market-driven public-private partnerships and encourage cooperation between French and Irish companies and other relevant actors

 

Ireland France Joint Plan of Action

The Ireland France Joint Plan of Action (2021-2025) was agreed to strengthen and deepen relations between the two countries across a range of cultural, educational and political activities.

The plan was signed by the then Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, and Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs at that time, during the visit of President Macron to Ireland, in August 2021.

The Joint Action Plan set out an ambitious agenda reflecting Ireland and France’s shared priorities, in a number of areas, including:

  • supporting sustainability
  • increasing trade connectivity
  • fostering the digital economy
  • strengthening education and research links
  • promoting the French language
  • fostering cultural cooperation

 

National Policy Statement on Electricity Interconnection

In July 2023, the Irish Government approved of a new policy statement on electricity interconnection. The National Policy Statement on Electricity Interconnection was approved by Cabinet on 25 July 2023.

The key aspects of Ireland’s new policy on electricity interconnection include:

  • Specifically supporting a further connection to Great Britain by 2030 beyond the completion of the Greenlink interconnector
  • A commitment to develop an Offshore Transmission Strategy and to explore the potential for multipurpose interconnectors in order to maximise export opportunities and facilitate offshore renewable energy development
  • The Integration of interconnector forward planning with new phases in offshore renewable energy developments, including supporting inputs into proposed Designated Maritime Area Plans (DMAPs) at local and regional areas
  • Consideration will also be given to further interconnection required to support the export of renewable electricity in the context of other uses, such as green hydrogen

 

International Energy Agency Ministerial 2024

Minister Ryan and the French Minister for Energy Transition Agnès Pannier-Runacher will co-chair the 2024 International Energy Agency (IEA) Ministerial in Paris. The IEA Ministerial takes place every two years to set the Agency’s mandate and review its achievements. The 2024 Ministerial, taking place in February 2024, will also mark the Agency’s 50th anniversary. The gathering provides a key opportunity for countries to assess the latest developments in global energy markets and how they can advance international cooperation on energy security and tackling climate change.

 

Ireland’s Offshore Wind Energy Developments

The Irish government has been accelerating policy on renewable offshore wind energy. Ireland’s first offshore wind auction, ORESS 1, took place earlier this year, the results underscored the State’s ambitions within offshore renewable wind energy. Over 3 Gigawatts of capacity has been procured from four offshore wind projects under ORESS1, which will deliver over 12 Terawatt hours of renewable electricity per year. This is the largest volume of renewable energy Ireland has ever procured at auction. It is also enough to power over 2.5 million Irish homes with clean electricity and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 1 million tonnes in 2030.

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