Study into feasibility of Irish Sea electricity grid


A NEW study on the feasibility of an undersea electricity grid in the Irish Sea, which would link off-shore renewable energy farms in Ireland and the UK, has been approved by Minister for Energy Eamon Ryan.

The project, which will examine the potential to connect wind, wave and tidal-energy sites by a new grid, is being supported by governments in the Republic, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Dubbed the Isles project – for Irish Scottish Links on Energy Study – it is EU Commission-funded.

Dún Laoghaire-based RPS Group, together with TNEI, PPA Energy and IHC Engineering Business Ltd, have been appointed consultants on the study, reporting to a steering group drawn from the three governments.

Mr Ryan told The Irish Timesthe move was strategic in that a high-voltage connection in the Irish Sea would itself link in with the electricity grids on both islands, and in turn would link into a proposed 10-state, sub-sea electricity grid shared among countries in northwestern Europe.

The Minister said the decision to proceed with the study showed Ireland was “as good as it gets, electrically” in terms of developing renewable energies.

PJ Rudden of RPS said the feasibility study would develop a business case for the delivery of the “trans-boundary grid”, and would examine aspects such as environment and planning, technology, regulatory requirements and finance and construction.

A multi-disciplinary team, led by RPS, has just commenced work on the project. The team will be accepting comments from interested parties, and the study is expected to take 18 months.

The announcement of the study comes as 10 of Europe’s largest energy and engineering firms joined forces to launch a new lobby group committed to advancing plans for a pan-European supergrid capable of supporting new renewable energy capacity. The Friends of the Supergrid (FOSG) group includes companies 3E, AREVA TD, DEME Blue Energy, Elia, Hochtief Construction AG, Mainstream Renewable Power, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Prysmian Cables & Systems, Siemens and Visser & Smit Marine Contracting.