Post Brexit, energy security can be an easy win – Richmond - Fine Gael

Post Brexit, energy security can be an easy win – Richmond

-   Senator Neale Richmond

The Government must prioritise roll-out of the Celtic Interconnector in order to secure Ireland’s energy supply in the wake of Brexit, according to  Fine Gael Senator and spokesman on EU Affairs, Neale Richmond who was speaking in the Seanad today (Wednesday).

“Following the 2009 Interconnector Feasibility Report, a link between Ireland and France was determined to be both feasible and beneficial for the respective parties. That report proposes an electrical link between Ireland and France, which if built, will enable the easy transfer of electrical power between our two nations.

“The link itself would take the form of a 500 kilometre long subsea cable, which when combined with the on land portion, would have a total length of 600 kilometres.

“The project has received significant backing from the European Union, particularly as it moves the EU closer to a system of electrical integration. Accordingly, the EU has designated the Celtic Interconnector the title of a Project of Common Interest (PCI).

“The total estimated cost for building the connector (as stated by the European Commission) currently stands at €7’720’664. In recent weeks, we have seen the European Union pay fifty percent of the funding needed to complete this project, with the remaining fifty percent to be supplied by the state owned Eirgrid Group and Reseau de Transport d’Electricite in France.

“The Celtic Interconnector is made up of a six-phase plan for completion, the first of which determined the feasibility and future energy needs of the nations.

“Currently, the plan is approaching the end of phase two, which determines what technology is exactly needed. The Eirgrid Group has subsequently applied (May 2017) to the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government for a foreshore license that will allow the Eirgrid Group to undertake further marine investigations off south-east Cork. Similar licenses were awarded to the Eirgrid Group in 2014 and 2015. The faster this license is granted the faster the investigations can begin and conclude.

“Numerous studies undertaken by the EU and both companies highlight significant benefits of the completion of the Interconnector. Upon completion, Ireland would have the ability to import seven hundred megawatts of electricity, the equivalent of supplying electricity to 450’000 homes in Ireland. Furthermore, by finishing the construction of this project, Ireland would enjoy a security of supply with regards to electricity.

“As with almost all current plans Brexit is relevant. By building the Celtic Interconnector, Ireland will maintain a direct energy connection with a fellow EU member state in the aftermath of the UK’s exit. The completion of the Celtic Interconnector must be an immediate priority for the Government. As it stands we are wholly reliant on the UK for energy imports and the completion of this project would allow for energy security to be an easy win post Brexit.”

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