Pinsent Masons: Interconnectors could make Ireland net exporter of electricity

Pinsent Masons: Interconnectors could make Ireland net exporter of electricity

Richard Murphy

Plans for a series of new electricity interconnectors between Ireland and its neighbours will help tackle high energy prices and deliver on key climate goals, according to Pinsent Masons.

In a policy statement published last month, the Irish government outlined proposals for a series of interconnectors to France, Spain and the UK, as well as either Belgium or the Netherlands.

Richard Murphy, partner and head of Pinsent Masons’ energy group in Ireland, said the projects could allow Ireland to become a net exporter of electricity as its renewable energy sector continues to grow.

The proposed links would build on the existing €1.6 billion deal for the ‘Celtic Interconnector’ between Co Cork and Brittany, which is scheduled to be commissioned in 2027. In addition, the so-called ‘Greenlink’ interconnector from Co Wexford to Pembrokeshire in Wales is expected to become operational in 2024.

The Irish government said increased interconnection with the UK and Europe would help balance electricity supply and demand between countries and provide a back-up power supply for times when electricity systems have reduced capacity.

New interconnections could also allow for increased energy imports in the case of an adverse shock, which may occur during extreme weather events.

The policy statement includes a number of pledges to increase Ireland’s interconnectivity, and sets out the Irish government’s commitment to develop a future connectivity model that is led by forward planning. The Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications will publish a new policy framework for multipurpose interconnectors in future.

Mr Murphy said: “Energy security is back as a key policy focus area and it cannot be delivered on an in-country basis only. Solidarity between neighbours will be key in moving power from low price zones to high price zones to manage costs effectively for consumers.”

Catherine Burns, a renewable energy specialist in the firm, added: “This strategy builds on previous policy statements that place development of the renewable energy sector in Ireland at the centre of delivering future energy security and net zero growth.

“To maximise this potential however, policy needs to be followed by a firm pipeline of interconnector projects that are coordinated with the expansion of renewable energy generation within Ireland.”

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