Hogan urges action on sub-sea interconnector as Brexit looms

The EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, has called for “urgent action” on plans for a €1 billion sub-sea electricity interconnector between Ireland and France, as Brexit looms.

Speaking today (Friday, December 7) in Dublin, Commissioner Hogan outlined the importance of pushing through the project – jointly developed by EirGrid and its French counterpart Reseau de Transport d’Electricite (RTE).

The proposed Celtic Interconnector involves the development of a potential electrical connection between Ireland and France, via a connection point from east Cork.

It is intended that the movement of electricity between the countries will be facilitated by utilising sub-sea cables with the capacity of approximately 700MW –  enough to power 450,000 households.

Both parties are sharing the costs of the strategic infrastructure development – which is currently being considered by An Bord Pleanala.

Addressing a meeting of the European Association of Journalists (AEJ), Commissioner Hogan stressed the importance of “accelerating plans” as a hard Brexit could pose serious problems for Ireland’s reliance on the UK for its energy needs.

”These technical and infrastructure requirements arising from a hard Brexit are now real.

“We have an energy requirement because of our growing economy that is going to require a fairly short-term solution in the next two to three years.

Otherwise we are going to run into an energy difficulty, perhaps.

“We do have an urgency about finding alternative arrangements for our energy mix and our energy requirements over the next couple of years, and I hope that we can fast-track this French connector to Ireland.

“I think this is the most urgent infrastructural issue and I hope that it would be treated urgently,” he said.

Sustainable Energy Transition

Last year, the European Union agreed to invest €4 million in the design and pre-consultation phase of the Celtic Interconnector project, 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.

Fintan Slye, Eirgird’s CEO, previously stated that, if constructed, this 575km connection would put downward pressure on wholesale electricity prices by directly linking the electricity market of mainland Europe with the Single Energy Market in Ireland.

He also said it would improve security of electricity supply in Ireland and France by providing “a reliable high-capacity link” between the two countries; and support further development of renewable resources contributing to Ireland’s and the EU’s sustainable energy transition.

A pre-application consultation request on the project was lodged with An Bord Pleanala last October; a decision on the case is expected on February 21, 2019.