BENEFITS / WHAT THE PROJECT IS SEEKING TO ACHIEVE
To achieve its climate and energy goals, Europe needs to further develop cross-border electricity interconnections. The Celtic Interconnector project will help to meet these targets for interconnection which are key to the achievement of Europe’s energy transition. Through facilitating more renewable energy to come onto the network, interconnection will also help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with power generation in Europe.
In addition, interconnection will increase the availability of renewable energy for european consumers as well as supporting european solidarity on energy, particularly in the case of unexpected energy events.
Through a decision issued on the 14th of October 2013, the European Union recognised the France-Ireland interconnector as a Project of Common Interest (PCI). This was reconfirmed on the 23rd of November 2017. The EU also labelled the Celtic Interconnector as an e-Highway project in November 2015.
In addition, the project will also help to achieve plans to develop the French, Irish and European network (TYNDP-Ten Year Network Development Plan).
2. Does France need another connection (since France has already reached the 10% threshold of interconnections)?
Interconnection is seen as key to a more integrated European electricity system with the aim of completing the European energy market. In turn this is seen as important in order to help the EU achieve its energy policy and climate objectives of affordable, secure and sustainable energy for all citizens, as well as the long-term decarbonisation of the economy.
SCOPE OF THE PROJECT
High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) is the only viable option given the distances needing to be covered.
This capacity is the most technically and economically viable for both France and Ireland as it does not require significant reinforcement work to be done on either power grid.
EirGrid and RTE carried out initial studies of the project in 2011 and since 2014 have been conducting technical and environmental studies including marine studies, which have confirmed the project’s technical feasibility. EirGrid and RTE have also conducted economic assessments to evaluate the project’s economic viability. In September 2018, EirGrid and RTE submitted a joint investment request application to the energy regulators of both countries in line with the PCI Regulation 347/2013EU.
Depending on the regulators decision with regard to the cost sharing agreement between France and Ireland, which is expected in April 2019, EirGrid and RTE will subsequently apply for grant funding from the Connecting Europe Facility, a European Union fund for pan-European infrastructure investment.
Based on these considerations the interconnector could potentially be commissioned at the end of 2026.
Geophysical, geotechnical and environmental marine surveys were conducted in order to analyse the sea-beds and determine an optimal, technically feasible and environmentally sensitive marine route for the submarine circuit
Following the marine studies and the identification of a best performing offshore marine route, further surveys were carried out nearer to the shore to inform decision making with regard to possible landfall locations.
Surveys conducted on the French coastline took place along the Ceinture Dorée. In Ireland, they were conducted along the Cork coast.
The marine study area was firstly investigated by way of a desktop assessment which took account of technical, economic and environmental considerations. Six potential offshore marine route options between Ireland and France were identified. Following further studies, a best performing route was identified, linking East Cork to the Côte des Légendes and the Ceinture Dorée and running to the west of the Isles of Scilly. This route was subsequently investigated in further detail before concluding that it was the most feasible and least environmentally sensitive route with no major constraints. To expand the understanding of the seabed near the shore, further surveys were carried out nearer to the shore to inform decision making with regard to possible landfall locations.