EirGrid and its French counterpart RTE (Réseau de Transport d’Électricité) have signed a protocol agreement to carry out a feasibility study on an interconnecting electric cable between Ireland and France.
The proposed submarine umbilical cord between Ireland and France would link the south coast of Ireland with the north-west of France thanks to an underwater cable of about 600km long. This part of France has had its share of power supply problems in the past and Ireland is expected to produce more electricity than it needs in the coming years as a result of investment in wind power generation.
Over the last few months, RTE and EirGrid have been carrying out preliminary tests which have suggested the economic benefits of such a connection; something that would, according to the joint statement, be of benefit to the electrical supply of the two countries and to their consumers.
On foot of this agreement, the two supply networks will be entering a new phase of an ever-deepening relationship; moving on to more detailed feasibility studies. The focus of these studies is expected to be firmly on the sea bed; identifying possible underwater corridors for the cable that may well follow the route of the General Hoche‘s doomed expedition to Bantry Bay in 1796.
Over 200 years later, this Franco-Irish project is of purely commercial interest. The capacity of the proposed interconnecting cable would be in the region of 700 megawatts – enough to power 450,000 homes. Last year, EirGrid completed the construction of an underwater cable carrying 500MW between the east coast and Wales – the second one linking Ireland and Great Britain.“The project, if it proceeds, should finish at about 2025,” said EirGrid president Fintan Slye. “The benefits of the France-Ireland connection will be better supply security, downward pressure on electricity prices from increased competition and potential exports of renewable energy,
RTE vice-president Pierre Bornard expressed delight at the signature of the protocol, saying that “The construction of this interconnecting cable would allow Irish wind power production to soar and join with the continental grid, which would facilitate the integration of renewable energies into the European electricity system. It would also improve the supply quality of the North-West of France.”