Ireland’s electricity grid operator EirGrid and its French counterpart Réseau de Transport d’Electricité (RTE) today signed an application for European Commission funding for the Celtic Interconnector. The two companies are submitting a request for funding under the Commission’s 2019 Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) Energy Programme.
The Celtic Interconnector is a proposed high-voltage sub-sea electricity cable that will enable the movement of power between Ireland and France. It would provide Ireland’s first direct electricity link to Continental Europe.
The request for funding was signed by Mark Foley, chief executive of EirGrid, and Francois Brottes, Chairman of the executive board of RTE, at a ceremony in Midleton, Cork. An Tánaiste Simon Coveney T.D., Richard Bruton T.D., Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment and France’s Minister for Ecological and Inclusive Transition Francois de Rugy, attended the event.
An Tánaiste Simon Coveney said: “Ireland’s relationship with France has always been one of enduring friendship and affinity. Initiatives like the Celtic Interconnector are tangible manifestations of the policies we put in place at European level to tackle the big issues that no one Member State can address alone. Completion of the project will be further proof that the European Union can really deliver on the day-to-day and long-term needs of its own citizens.”
Minister Bruton said, “The Celtic Interconnector is a crucial project in the context of our plan to respond to climate change. Not only is it important for the security of our energy supply in the years to come, but it will enable us to reach our ambitious renewable electricity target of 70% by 2030, greatly reducing our reliance on fossil fuels. It is also important bearing in mind our only current interconnection is with the UK.”
Minister de Rugy said: "I am proud and happy to support this ambitious project, a landmark for French-Irish cooperation, for the European energy market and for its transition towards low-carbon energies."
Mr Foley said: “We are hopeful that this application will be successful as the Celtic Interconnector clearly meets the Commission’s goals of increasing competitiveness through integrating further the EU energy markets.”
Mr Brottes said: “Committing Europe to energy transition requires ever more solidarity with regards to electricity transmission. The construction of this new Celtic Interconnector will strengthen the resilience of the European electricity network.”
Today’s ceremony follows the signing on Tuesday in Brussels by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and France’s President Emmanuel Macron of a letter offering their respective Governments’ support for the project.
The interconnector will be able to import and export up to 700 megawatts of electricity, the equivalent of supplying power to around 450,000 homes.
Since 2011, EirGrid and RTE have carried out series of joint studies into the feasibility of the interconnector. These studies indicate that if built, an interconnector between the two countries would benefit electricity customers in Ireland, France and the EU.
EirGrid is currently running an eight-week public consultation on the project. It is seeking feedback on three possible landfall locations on the coast of East Cork for the cable. It was also seeking feedback on a shortlist of six proposed location zones for a converter station in East Cork.
In France, the interconnector will land on the coast of Brittany, close to the city of Brest.