Rapid roll out of the Celtic Interconnector is vital to securing Ireland’s future energy needs – Richmond

-   Senator Neale Richmond

The rapid roll out of the Celtic Interconnector is vital to securing Ireland’s future energy needs, according to a Fine Gael Senator.

Senator Neale Richmond, who is Seanad EU Affairs spokesman has repeated his call for the speedy delivery of the Celtic Interconnector as the Taoiseach meets with French President Emmanuel Macron today (Tuesday).

“Today as our Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, holds his first bilateral meeting with the French President, Emmanuel Macron, it is important that we focus on the common areas of strategic interest to France and Ireland, particularly in the post Brexit era.

“The rapid roll out of the Celtic Interconnector is one such example; it is vital to securing Ireland’s future energy needs.

“Ireland and France have a long and distinguished shared history. In recent years our mutual cooperation has been evident in many fields, particularly in the Agri-food sector with regard to the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP). Franco-Irish commerce is increasing on a weekly basis and supported by a range of state actors.

“In light of Brexit it is vital therefore that this mutual cooperation is built upon and strengthened.

“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 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 financial assistance for the Celtic Interconnector, announced by the European Commission will be a boost to both the French and Irish Governments in this regard but every effort must be made to accelerate this now.

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

“The total estimated cost for building the connector (as stated by the European Commission) currently stands at €7,720,664. Over the summer we saw 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 Réseau de Transport d’Électricité in France.

“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 here. 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 open Ireland up to other energy markets post Brexit.

“I know the issue of the Celtic Interconnector was an item of discussion at this morning’s meeting and I hope it can be the symbol of strong Franco-Irish relations in the post Brexit era.”

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