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Irish policy statement recognises role of interconnection

Wind turbine near the coast, Ireland. Author: Harry Pears. License: Creative Commons, Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

July 10 (Renewables Now) - The Irish Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE) on Friday published a national policy statement on electricity interconnection that recognises its strategic importance to the country.

The policy statement says that interconnection has a positive effect on the three pillars of Ireland's energy policy -- sustainability, security of supply and competitiveness, -- and also supports the energy transition. The DCCAE notes that interconnection has assisted the state in its decarbonisation efforts and helped to reduce curtailment of wind generation. It also notes that according to a recent scenario planning by EirGrid, Ireland needs between 500 MW and 1,950 MW of interconnection by 2030 to fulfill its renewable energy ambitions.

The policy statement follows consultation initiated in January this year and is intended to provide policy guidance to stakeholders, in particular, to the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU), which considers the applications for projects.    

Interconnection is important to Ireland given its isolation from the wider European electricity grid due to its location and also given the small size of the market and its high wind generation capability. Ireland now has power links with Northern Ireland, as part of the Single Electricity Market, and with Great Britain, while additional interconnection with Northern Ireland, Great Britain and France is proposed.

Element Power, the developer of the 500-MW Greenlink interconnector between Ireland and Wales, on Monday welcomed the publication of the policy statement. "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," said Greenlink chairman Mike O’Neill.

According to the announcement, Greenlink is Ireland’s most advanced interconnector project.

"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," O’Neill also said.

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Plamena has been a UK-focused reporter for many years. As part of the Renewables Now team she is taking a keen interest in policy moves.

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