New EirGrid electricity cable from France planned for east Cork

Network operator proposes location for 700MW Celtic interconnector cable.

EirGrid, Ireland’s grid operator, has been searching for the best location to bring the proposed planned Celtic Interconnector cable ashore and connect it to its existing grid.

The subsea cable, to connect France and Ireland, may be brought ashore in east Cork near Knockraha.

EirGrid has already applied for a foreshore licence to conduct marine surveys off the coast of east Cork to confirm the project’s viability.  

Celtic Interconnector cable - benefits

The interconnector, which has the potential to power approximately 450,000 households, will be Ireland’s first such connection with mainland Europe. EirGrid has been working with its counterpart in France, RTE, to investigate the feasibility of the transmission connection.

A marine route between Ireland and France has already been identified and East Cork has been suggested as the best location for the interconnector to link into Ireland’s transmission system.  

The length of the subsea cable would be approximately 500km and its length between the countries is approximately 600km. The industry standard for such interconnectors is High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC), as was used for the East West Interconnector (EWIC) which EirGrid developed between Dublin, Ireland and Wales.

Converter stations at each end would convert the electricity back to High Voltage Alternating Current (HVAC).  This conversion is needed because Ireland’s transmission system relies on HVAC technology to distribute electricity around the country.   

Other than the 700MW of electricity supply to Ireland, there are other benefits of the interconnector:

  • Enhanced security of supply for Ireland’s electricity consumers as it will provide Ireland’s only direct energy connection to an EU Member State once the UK leaves the European Union.
  • A potential reduction in the cost of electricity to consumers
  • Help Ireland meet its low carbon energy future goals
  • Provide a direct fibre optic communications link between Ireland and France.

Creating an integrated European electricity system

The European Commission sees interconnection between countries’ grids as key to a more integrated European electricity system as it improves the transmission of electricity around the system to areas that need it. Interconnection also allows electricity to be exported to markets and users in other countries. 

The commission has designated the Celtic Interconnector as a Project of Common Interest, and has invested €3.9 million to date and up to €4 million has been approved for ongoing and future studies.

The commission has set a 10% electricity interconnection target for 2020 but has proposed to extend this to 15% by 2030.

A final decision as to whether the interconnector will be built is not expected until 2020.

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