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Significant milestone reached in Celtic Interconnector project

Ireland’s grid to be connected to mainland Europe for the first-time through subsea link between Ireland and France

Good progress is being made in the construction of one of Ireland’s most significant infrastructure projects, the Celtic Interconnector, the subsea link connecting the electricity grids of Ireland and France.

The project is being developed by EirGrid, the national transmission system operator and its French counterpart Réseau de Transport d’Électricité (RTE).

Recently, the first deliveries of High Voltage Alternating Current cabling were successfully transported from Belgium to Cork. These cables have been specifically designed for the onshore aspect of the project and consist of aluminium conductors.

The cable was manufactured in Charleroi in Belgium, and the 48 cable drums were transported to Cork harbour by sea, before being delivered to the project site in east Cork.

When complete, the interconnector will allow the import and export of enough electricity to power 450,000 homes, moving electricity across 575km.

“The project will enable Ireland to export renewable energy, while securing the importation of affordable, secure and sustainable energy for citizens here,” according to Michael Mahon, chief infrastructure officer at EirGrid.

“Our ambition is to ensure 80 per cent of Ireland’s energy comes from renewables by 2030, in line with Government targets,” he said.

To achieve this, EirGrid says that more renewable generators need to be connected to the power system, which means the grid must be stronger and more flexible. This requires reinforcements, upgrades and new infrastructure across the country, as well as further interconnection.

The European Commission has partly funded the Celtic Interconnector. Designated as a Project of Common Interest, it is identified as a critical infrastructure project that links the energy systems of EU countries.

“Ireland is a key player in the vision for a European offshore network and to make this work we need more connection to the European grid,” according to Mahon.

Beyond the Celtic Interconnector, progress has been made in identifying potential new direct electricity interconnection from Ireland to France and Great Britain in the future.

This has been signalled in the Offshore Network Development Plans (ONDP), published by the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) in January.

Following on from the commitment signalled by the Irish and French Governments’ late last year to continue to build on the current collaboration, the ONDP signals progress in identifying potential further interconnection to France and Great Britain.

“With Ireland’s strong natural resources, like wind, the country has the opportunity to become a leader in renewable electricity generation on to the European grid, powering up citizens at home and across Europe,” concluded Mahon.



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