The Arklow Bank offshore wind project in Ireland by SSE

Ireland launches public consultation on electricity interconnection policy

Ireland’s Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC) has launched a technical consultation for the Electricity Interconnection Policy, published in 2018, in order to update it to reflect the developments that took place over the years.

Illustration; The Arklow Bank offshore wind project in Ireland. Source: SSE

Published in July 2018, the National Policy Statement on Electricity Interconnection emphasises strong government support for increasing electricity interconnector capacity between Ireland and neighbouring markets.

The Climate Action Plan 2021 (CAP21), published in November last year, requires that the policy statement be updated by the fourth quarter of this year in order to reflect significant developments that have taken place over previous years.

These developments include increased climate and energy ambition in Ireland and the EU, the government’s target to deliver 5 GW of installed offshore wind generation by 2030, the UK’s decision to leave the EU, and the revision of the EU TEN-E Regulation.

CAP21 builds on Ireland’s 2020 Programme for Government which sets out a commitment to strengthen the existing policy framework for electricity interconnection to incentivise further interconnection and to commence planning for future interconnection with neighbouring countries.  

In addition to articulating the Irish policy positions, this statement has provided clarity to potential interconnector investors and has assisted the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) in determining an appropriate regulatory approach to electricity interconnection.

The consultation is seeking stakeholder feedback on the impact of increased interconnection capacity on achieving 80% renewables and 5 GW of offshore renewable energy by 2030, and government’s longer-term post-2030 energy and climate objectives.

It is also seeking views on the appropriate legislative, regulatory and policy framework at national and EU level to provide for increased interconnection, including the development of dual-purpose hybrid interconnectors, combining point to point interconnection with offshore generation.

The closing date for submissions is 5:30 p.m. local time on 10 August.

MaresConnect, the developer of the proposed 750 MW electricity interconnector between Ireland and Great Britain, welcomed the move: “Further interconnection capacity with its neighbours will address Ireland’s pressing challenges of ensuring security of electricity supply and avoiding costly curtailment of further renewable resources, in particular, onshore and offshore wind.”

To remind, in March, Irish Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan TD invited applications from the first batch of offshore wind projects for Maritime Area Consents (MACs), the first of which are expected to be issued in the second half on this year.

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