Project affirms broader European solidarity with Ireland against the challenging backdrop of Brexit.
3 December 2019
Speaking today at an official European Commission event in Brussels, Minister Sean Canney, welcomed the formal signing of an unprecedented grant award to an Irish project:
"I am privileged to represent the Government at such an historic occasion. Today represents a critical step forward for Ireland in our electricity story. The official confirmation that €530m in grant aid from the European Commission will see Ireland establish an electricity link with France. Not alone will this link join us to the French market, but it also ensures we are embedded in the EU's Internal Energy Market. After Brexit, such a link is essential to ensure Ireland is able to maintain access to all the benefits this pan European market brings".
The €1 billion Celtic Interconnector will connect Ireland's electricity network to France via an underwater connection of some 575kms. Once built, its 700 megawatts capacity will power 450,000 households, and help Ireland to switch to 70% renewable energy as set out in the Government's Climate Action Plan.
A vital part of Project Ireland 2040, the Interconnector is likely to drive down electricity prices for the consumer through increased competition. The interconnector will also provide improved security and diversification of electricity supply. In addition, it will facilitate the further development of renewable energy as Irish renewable electricity can be exported rather than curtailed or restricted, especially in the night time when demand for electricity is lower.
The investment was secured under the EU's Connecting Europe Facility. The application was made possible by the status of the Celtic Interconnector as a Project of Common Interest (PCI). Projects with PCI status are recognised as essential for completing the European Internal Energy Market and for reaching the EU's energy policy objectives of affordable, secure and sustainable energy. The interconnector is being jointly developed by EirGrid and its French counterpart Réseau de Transport d'Électricité (RTE), and has, over several years, been supported by Ireland during the EU PCI process which has ultimately made the grant possible. The project signifies a new and welcome phase in Irish-French relations.
Minister Canney also noted the telecommunications potential of the interconnector:
"Commendably, this electricity interconnector also includes telecommunications capability. Strategically, the project spec includes the provision of direct fibre connection to continental Europe. Currently there is no direct telecommunications connectivity between Ireland and France so all traffic between Ireland, France and the rest of mainland Europe must first pass through the UK, the UK Land Bridge. This interconnector serves us well in both electricity and telecommunications terms".