Smaller-scale grid infrastructure is being proposed for North Connacht after a review of the region’s renewable energy plans.
We have announced plans to replace the Grid West electricity transmission project with a smaller-scale development.
The Grid West project was proposed in 2012 to connect large amounts of renewable energy to the grid. The decision to replace Grid West was made due to the lower than expected amounts of wind generation in the North Connacht region.
This means renewable generation can now be connected through the development of a lower voltage, 110 kV line carried on poles; not the 220 kV or 400 kV schemes previously proposed under Grid West.
The new project will also reinforce the electricity network, supporting Mayo County Council’s aim to enhance the attractiveness of the county as a place in which to live, work and invest.
EirGrid is continuing technical studies on the project and over the coming months will engage with landowners, communities and stakeholders in the region. Those affected by the new proposal will have an opportunity to influence the decisions EirGrid makes.
Since late 2015, all project activity was paused while awaiting a decision from An Bord Pleanála regarding planning approval for the development of the Oweninny wind farm near Bellacorick, Co. Mayo.
Recently, An Bord Pleanála granted planning consent for the development of this wind farm.
We will now assess this decision and the impact this may have on the future development of the electricity grid in the West. Once our assessment has been completed we will share the outcomes and consult with stakeholders and communities as necessary.
We have announced details of underground and overhead options for the Grid West project. We published these options in our report to the Government-appointed Independent Expert Panel.
Earlier this year, this Panel confirmed to the Minister for Energy that our report is complete and neutral.
This report details technical, environmental and economic facts about the three options for the Grid West project:
To read the report in full, please click here.
The full report is a detailed, technical document. With this in mind, we have developed a report summary, which is a synopsis of the findings of the main report. You can read this summary here.
You can find a copy of our latest project update brochure here. This details the current status and next steps of the project.
The Government-appointed Independent Expert Panel has now reviewed our report on the Grid West project. They have confirmed that our report is in line with their Terms of Reference. When published, this report will provide a comprehensive analysis of underground and overhead options. This will include an assessment of the environmental, technical and economic issues for each option.
EirGrid will now prepare this report for publication and public consultation. We will complete this work shortly and intend to publish the full report and accompanying appendices in the coming months.
EirGrid has published Your Grid, Your Views, Your Tomorrow. This is our new draft of a strategy for the development of Ireland’s transmission grid. It is available at www.eirgrid.com/yourgridyourviews .
We are seeking public feedback on this strategy. Three key pillars shape this strategy:
This draft strategy supports Ireland’s energy, economic and social policy objectives. This includes the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs and the IDA’s Regional Development Strategy.
Based on the new thinking in this draft strategy, we have developed some new options for certain projects, including Grid West. Our analysis confirmed that the west of Ireland needs a high-voltage transmission line. However, we have now identified a new solution to deliver the needs of this project. This third option is a 220kV overhead line with partial use of underground cable to the longest possible extent – up to 30km. This option is now put forward as an alternative to a direct current underground cable or a 400kV overhead line.
EirGrid has completed a report on the technical, environmental and economic analyses on each of these three options. We have sent our report to the Government-appointed Independent Expert Panel, who will now review our analysis. They will then provide an opinion to the Minister for Energy, Communications and Natural Resources. At that stage, we will publish the report and make it available for public consultation. We will update people with details of this consultation as soon as we complete our plans.
In January, EirGrid committed to a comprehensive review of our public consultation process. This was in response to criticisms we received during our last public consultation on the Grid West Project.
We have now published this review. It includes two independent studies that we commissioned to assess our consultation process.
The review found that EirGrid’s approach to public consultation met European and international standards. However, it also sets out where we fell short of what people expected from us.
This review includes recommendations intended to enhance future public consultations. This includes the Grid West Project.
These recommendations include:
We are continuing to consider the overhead and underground options for Grid West to an equal and comparable level of detail. We will then submit these to the Government-appointed Independent Expert Panel later this month. They will ensure that we have assessed the overhead and underground options for the project in a fair, equal and transparent manner.
We are currently developing and analysing underground and overhead options for the Grid West Project. When complete, we will present this analysis to the Government-appointed Independent Expert Panel. We have been listening to feedback about the project from individuals and communities. We will hold information clinics in the coming weeks so people can meet the project team and discuss the project in detail.