The chief executives of the Irish and French national electricity grids have met to sign a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which sets out aims to strengthen energy security, build on an affordable energy system, and diversify energy supply in Europe, through joint cooperation between both transmission system operators (TSOs).
Mark Foley, Chief Executive of EirGrid, and Xavier Piechaczyk, President of the managing board of French grid operator Réseau de Transport d'Électricité (RTE), met at EirGrid’s head office in Dublin to sign the landmark agreement.
The meeting also recognised the continued delivery of the Celtic Interconnector, the submarine power cable linking the electricity grids of both countries.
The MoU was signed in the presence of Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan and Agnès Pannier-Runacher, French Minister of Energy Transition.
The ‘Cooperation on Offshore Energy Interconnection’ between EirGrid, and RTE, marks the deepening of the existing relationship between the two organisations and is a statement of shared ambition to work together on grid and system development perspectives to harness the potential abundant offshore renewable energy resources in the welfare and climate interest.
A joint working group will be established to progress these important matters so critical to the achievement of the shared national and wider European ambition for climate neutrality, supported by affordable, secure and sustainable energy.
The signing of the MoU signifies a joint cooperation between both TSOs in accordance with the European Union regulatory framework to improving security of supply, bringing diversification of energy sources, contributing to national energy targets, ambitions for renewable energy and creating new development opportunities for both Ireland’s and France’s economies.
More generally, this agreement reflects the ambition - supported by the work of the European Network of Transmission System Operators (ENTSO-E) to promote offshore projects across the Atlantic Ocean which brings together Ireland, Spain, Portugal and France - which could represent a capacity offshore wind production of 26 GW in 2040 and 54 GW in 2050.
It also aims to assess the long-term interest of a new interconnection with Ireland, potentially hybrid, which would provide a part connection function, offshore wind power, in addition to the function of electricity exchange between the two countries.
Welcoming the announcement of the signing, Mr Foley said: “Today marks a significant step on our journey to achieving our climate goals and greater energy security. Working alongside our French neighbours in establishing a strong commitment to realising both countries’ offshore renewable energy potential will deliver numerous benefits, including strengthening energy security and building an affordable and diversified energy system.”
The EirGrid chief added: “To date, we have worked closely in partnership with RTE, as we deliver the Celtic Interconnector. The Celtic Interconnector is a key part in EirGrid’s strategic goal to transform Ireland’s power system and increase security of supply.
“Construction has commenced on the cable in both countries, and, when delivered, will make the power system more resilient and efficient.
“We look forward to an increased partnership with RTE as we work towards achieving our climate ambitions by exploring our offshore potential, and further energy interconnection.”
Mr Piechaczyk said: “This partnership aims to strengthen the cooperation between RTE and EirGrid with regard to the planning and development of the energy generation and the offshore grid network, which will be one of the key pillars required for the fastest possible establishment of a decarbonised European electricity network to which the EU is committed.”