European supergrid linking solar power in south to wind in north ‘only way to go’, says Tánaiste

Micheál Martin speaking at launch of book on decarbonising Europe by Dr Eddie O’Connor and Irish Times journalist Kevin O’Sullivan

A European supergrid capable of linking solar power from the south to wind in the north is “the only way to go” in an era focused on developing renewable energy supply, Tánaiste Micheál Martin has said.

A new book on the subject, Supergrid – Super Solution: The Key to Solving the Energy Crisis and Decarbonising Europe, by Dr Eddie O’Connor and Irish Times Environment and Science Editor Kevin O’Sullivan, estimates the cost of such a project at more than €900 billion, recoupable within eight years.

“I [have] articulated the idea of the supergrid as the only ultimate way to go over the next number of decades,” Mr Martin said at the book’s launch in Trinity College Dublin on Thursday.

“And many countries are taken by that particular idea and are no longer sort of intimidated by the challenges it once might have represented, and I think it will need a lot of advocacy at European level. And persistence.”


Such a pan-European project would employ proven superconductor technology, according to the authors, in harnessing the abundance of renewable energy, particularly off the west coast of Ireland, and distributing it across the Continent.

“Ireland can play a lead role on that international stage,” O’Sullivan said. “We could be supplying up to 10 per cent of the EU’s power in 20 or 30 years’ time through offshore wind.”

A supergrid of the scale advocated could provide the “backbone in decarbonising Europe”, he said.

Dr O’Connor, who founded Airtricity, Mainstream Renewable Power and SuperNode, emphasised the short amount of time it would take to recoup the financial investment.

“A supergrid based on super-connectivity is the only technology that will deliver [energy] sustainability in Europe,” he said.

The Dublin launch of the book was attended by former taoiseach Brian Cowen, former president of the European Parliament Pat Cox, and environmentalist and architect Duncan Stewart among others.

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times