The emergence of new technology means that there is now no requirement to proceed with the previously proposed Grid Link 400 kV overhead line. We now intend to move forward with an option which will strengthen the existing grid infrastructure in the region.
We now intend to move forward with the Regional Option to meet the needs of the Grid Link project.
In September 2015 we submitted our report on the Grid Link project to the Government-appointed Independent Expert Panel. This report set out an analysis of alternative options to meet the need of the Grid Link project. The report considered both overhead and underground solutions in respect of environmental, technological and economic criteria. In addition to this, we set out a new and innovative technical solution, referred to as the ‘Regional Option’, based on technology which is capable of strengthening the existing grid infrastructure in the region. This meets the needs of the project without building new large scale overhead infrastructure.
The Regional Option uses a technology known as ‘series compensation’. This would be the first time it will be deployed on the Irish transmission grid. It is an advanced, smart grid technology that will enable more power to flow through existing lines, and so does not require new 400 kV overhead lines. To complete this solution, an underwater cable across the Shannon estuary is required in addition to some upgrade works to existing transmission lines.
The emergence of the new ‘Regional Option’ means there is now no requirement to proceed with the previously proposed Grid Link 400 kV overhead line.
On 27 March 2015, EirGrid published Your Grid, Your Views, Your Tomorrow. This is a new draft strategy for the development of Ireland’s transmission grid.
We undertook a fresh analysis of Grid Link when drafting this new strategy. This confirmed that the need for the Grid Link Project remains. However, we can now consider new ways to meet this need – due to three factors. These are: changes to demand forecasts, upgrades to existing lines and advances in technology.
Our initial proposal for Grid Link was a high voltage alternating current overhead line. We have now identified two new solutions for the Grid Link Project. The first uses underground cable technology. The second uses a technology called series compensation. This increases capacity on the grid using existing infrastructure.
EirGrid is examining all the possible options for the Grid Link Project. We intend to make a submission to the Government’s Independent Expert Panel in Autumn 2015.
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 Link 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 Link Project.
These recommendations include:
We are also continuing to examine the best way to deliver Grid Link using alternatives to overhead line technology.
Studies are underway to identify the best possible underground cable route and overhead line route for the Grid Link Project. We expect to be able to publish both of these options by mid-2015.
The underground and overhead route options will then go out to public consultation. In doing so, we will clearly explain the advantages and disadvantages of both.
The Independent Expert Panel will then review these options. This panel was set up Government to ensure that EirGrid assesses all project options in a fair and transparent manner.