New Irish interconnection policy will be major boost for investors, consumers and national energy security

  • DCCAE publishes policy following consultation launched in January
  • Benefits of interconnection to Irish energy security, competitiveness and sustainability are recognised, including “lower long term cost of electricity”
  • Policy clarity and direction is major boost to investors in interconnection infrastructure projects, such as Greenlink

Element Power, the developer of the Greenlink Interconnector [1], has today welcomed publication by the Irish Government of their National Policy Statement on Electricity Interconnection [2].

The policy sets out the strategic importance of interconnection to Ireland and the three pillars of its energy policy – sustainability, security of supply and competitiveness, and recognises the benefits of interconnection to the Irish consumer “including lower long term costs of electricity”. It states that the paper is designed to augment policy certainty for potential developers and to best serve the Irish public.

The paper concludes a public consultation launched by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE) in January this year, to which Greenlink submitted evidence.

Commenting on the announcement, Mike O’Neill, Chairman of Greenlink said;

“Private investors in large energy infrastructure projects like Greenlink need policy clarity.   We very much welcome the clear and positive direction that the Irish Government has provided and praise the Minister for a visionary approach to increasing interconnection that supports the three pillars of energy policy:  greater energy security, sustainability and best value for money for consumers.”

Security of supply is a pillar of Irish energy policy due to the fundamental importance it represents to any developed economy for prosperity and minimising power costs, particularly to an Island nation.  It is widely recognised that interconnectors can make a positive contribution to security of supply and system reliability.  The DCCAE notes interconnection’s contribution to Ireland’s decarbonisation effort “… increasingly so as the levels of wind generation have rapidly increased.” [3]

In Greenlink’s response to the consultation we highlighted how further interconnection with Ireland’s neighbours is expected to increase the competitiveness and sustainability of the electricity markets in Ireland and will bring benefits to Ireland and society as a whole.

Ireland’s existing interconnectors currently represent 7.4% interconnection [4] compared with a target of 10% by 2020 and 15% by 2030. Today’s DCCAE paper gives an estimate for further interconnection of up to 1,950MW by 2030. Greenlink is Ireland’s most advanced interconnector project and its realisation will represent a contribution of 500MW by 2023.

Greenlink also welcomes the DCCAE’s guidance setting out the CRU’s powers to determine the appropriate regulation to stimulate interconnector investment.  Greenlink is working closely with the CRU on its cap and floor application as part of the CRU’s consultation in respect of the project due to conclude in September this year [5], and their subsequent consideration of a symmetrical regulatory regime with the UK regulator Ofgem.

Mike O’Neill continued;

“As an EU Project of Common Interest [6], Greenlink is already considered one of Europe’s most important energy infrastructure projects.  The Government’s paper now sends a strong signal that the electricity regulator, the CRU, has their support to approve new interconnection like Greenlink and determine the appropriate regime.  We look forward to working with the CRU and moving forward with the project, to deliver local jobs and economic benefits and support national policy objectives.”


CONTACT FOR MEDIA ENQUIRES:

Anna Stanford, Communications Manager, Element Power: 
Anna.Stanford@elpower.com
  Mobile:  +44(0)7961 234634


NOTES TO EDITORS:

1. About Greenlink

Greenlink is a 200km interconnector stretching from Great Island in Co. Wexford to Pembroke in Wales.  The link has a capacity of 500MW, equivalent to powering 380,000 homes*, and is a €400m privately-financed initiative developed by Element Power.  It will stimulate inward investment and jobs and resultin savings for Irish electricity consumers of up to €800m over the project’s lifetime.

(*Based on annual household use of 4200kWh (as per CRU’s decision paper published in March 2017 following its review of typical consumption figures (CER17042)) and estimated total flows from UK to SEM of 1,600,000 MWh/yr.)

2. https://www.dccae.gov.ie/en-ie/energy/publications/Pages/National-Policy-Statement-on-Electricity-Interconnection.aspx

3. See chapter on Strategic and Economic importance of Electricity interconnection to Ireland.

4. Commission Staff Working Document- Energy Union Factsheet Ireland http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:52017SC0398&from=en . The interconnectivity level is calculated as a ratio between import interconnection and net generation capacities of the country (i.e. the 2017 value is the ratio between simultaneous import interconnection capacity [GW] and net generating capacity [GW] in the country at 11 January 2017, 19:00 pm as resulted from ENTSO-E Winter Outlook 2016/2017)

5. https://www.cru.ie/document_group/greenlink-electricity-interconnector/

6. In November 2017, the Greenlink project was re-confirmed as a Project of Common Interest (PCI) by the European Commission. https://ec.europa.eu/energy/en/topics/infrastructure/projects-common-interest