Warning on Brexit impact on single electricity market

Fears expressed for economy if connectivity North and South of Border is compromised

British-Irish Chamber of Commerce’s John McGrane: “If Brexit means pulling the plug on the unrestricted supply of electricity to the island, there will be no winners.”

British-Irish Chamber of Commerce’s John McGrane: “If Brexit means pulling the plug on the unrestricted supply of electricity to the island, there will be no winners.”

 

Any disruption to the single electricity market of the Republic and the North after Brexit will have a “severe impact” on the Irish economy, according to the British Irish Chamber of Commerce.

The agency’s Energy and Environmental Committee published its policy paper High Level Principles for the British Irish Energy Sector Post Brexit on Wednesday.

It argues that the UK-Irish energy sector should be in a position to maintain and deliver a secure, increasingly decarbonised and affordable flow of energy to consumers at the end of the negotiations.

It highlights the “significant level of integration” within the sector between the Republic, the North and Great Britain.

Since 2007, Ireland has operated as a single electricity market. The Republic is connected to Britain through two electricity interconnectors and three gas interconnectors. Planning permission has already been approved for the North-South interconnector.

Energy security

The paper argues that any curtailment on the current arrangements between the UK and Ireland will have a negative impact on consumers in the Republic and the North, while also jeopardising energy security.

British Irish Chamber of Commerce director general John McGrane said the single electricity market “can rightly be described as one of the first substantial arrangements” between the Republic and the North that stems from the Belfast Agreement.

“It has benefited consumers while ensuring the security of electricity supply to the island,” he said. “If Brexit means pulling the plug on the unrestricted supply of electricity to the island, there will be no winners and the losers will be consumers and employers throughout Ireland North and South.”

British Irish Chamber of Commerce Energy and Environmental Committee chair Mark Varian said “no other country” relies on a neighbour in the same way as the Republic does in relation to the UK’s energy sector.

Strategic importance

“This level of integration within the sector improves our security of supply and reduces energy prices for consumers,” he said.

“Therefore, it is of upmost strategic importance to Ireland, both North and South, that the outcome of the Brexit negotiations takes into account the inter-linkage of the two energy markets.

“Any outcome that jeopardises the current arrangements will have a severe impact on the Irish economy. It is therefore imperative that the needs of the Irish energy sector get the attention from policymakers in Ireland and Europe that it deserves and needs.”