Energy plan includes electricity interconnectors linking Ireland to France

European Commission announces 195 projects as part of ‘Energy Union’ effort

The Great Island Power Station, Wexford. Key interconnector,  the “Celtic Interconnector” will link Great Island in Wexford with La Martyre in France.  Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

The Great Island Power Station, Wexford. Key interconnector, the “Celtic Interconnector” will link Great Island in Wexford with La Martyre in France. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

 

Electricity interconnectors linking Ireland to France and Britain, as well as two North-South interconnectors, are included in a list of “key” energy development initiatives planned by the European Commission.

The commission announced the 195 infrastructure projects as part of its efforts to build an “Energy Union” through the greater integration of Europe’s disjointed energy systems. The Energy Union seeks to reduce energy costs, ensure security of supply and help develop a low carbon economy, said Ruth Deasy at the commission office in Dublin. It also wants to diversify energy sources by linking in renewables and would help bring an end to the “energy isolation” of some member states, including Ireland.

‘Priority’

The Energy Union also deals with reduction of carbon emissions. The updated plans were released in anticipation of the international COP21 climate change conference set to take place in Paris from November 30-December 11.

“We are coming up to the Paris conference with targets we have to square up to. We need to move towards a low carbon economy,” she said.

The list of projects is an updated version of the “Projects of Common Interest” first adopted in October 2013. It includes 108 electricity, 77 gas, seven oil and three smart grid projects. The key focus for Ireland is greater integration through more electricity and gas interconnectors.

A number of potential Irish projects have been dropped, but key interconnectors remain, for example the “Celtic Interconnector” linking Great Island in Wexford with La Martyre in France.

Others include a Great Island to Pembroke, Wales interconnector known as “Greenline”, and another linking Co Derry with Islay, Argyll. This would provide an entry point for electricity coming from offshore wind farms proposed for the north Irish Sea.

Costs

The document from the commission was an “important landmark” on assessing how member states were performing in terms of 2020 energy and climate targets, Ibec said. Given the “unusual structure” of Irish emissions, however, climate targets would be the most challenging issue related to the Energy Union, the body said.

Greenpeace was highly critical of the Energy Union’s “lack of ambition” on development of renewable energy. The focus should be on decarbonisation, energy independence and self-sufficiency, it said.

Ireland already has an east-west subsea electricity interconnector linking Rush, Co Dublin and north Wales. There is one North South link that connects Co Louth and Armagh.