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Sunday, May 19, 2024

EirGrid secures licence for major new subsea power lines


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The Government has given the green light to a major project by EirGrid, granting them a foreshore licence to lay four subsea electricity cables across the Shannon Estuary. This exciting development will allow electricity generated by windfarms in the south-west to be transmitted to the east of the country. The cables will connect substations in Moneypoint, Co Clare, and Kilpaddoge, Co Kerry.

EirGrid, the company responsible for managing Ireland’s electricity network, received planning approval for the project from An Bord Pleanála in 2021. Originally scheduled for construction between 2021 and 2022, EirGrid applied for a 35-year foreshore licence in July 2020. After a three-year wait, their application has finally been approved.

It’s worth noting that there is a possibility to challenge the decision to grant the licence by seeking a judicial review until the end of September.

EirGrid has acknowledged the increasing integration of renewable generation into the transmission and distribution systems in the south and west of Ireland. As wind generation becomes more prominent, it is expected to replace conventional generation based on economic merit, while still respecting operational constraints. Consequently, during times of high wind, significant power flows are expected to move from the west and south-west towards the large load centres on the east coast. To accommodate these projected power flows and address other network issues, such as voltage collapse and thermal concerns, a system reinforcement is necessary.

The Shannon Estuary project is anticipated to cost tens of millions of euros, potentially exceeding the initial estimates due to inflation and economic constraints. To secure the foreshore licence, EirGrid agreed to pay €546,000, in addition to approximately €500,000 for a marine survey of the project area.

In addition to the electricity cables, each subsea cable will also include two fibre optic cables. One fibre optic cable will be utilized for communication between the substations, while the other will serve maintenance and cable monitoring purposes.

Last year, the Marine Licence Vetting Committee recommended that the Government grant EirGrid the required foreshore licence. The committee emphasized the importance of improving both the capacity and resilience of the electricity supply network to enhance energy security and support national development.

This month, Environment Minister Eamon Ryan confirmed that his department is finalizing a long-awaited review of the security of Ireland’s electricity and natural gas systems. It is believed that the Cabinet discussed this review during a recent meeting.

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