Irish energy industry calls for new links to Europe amid Brexit fears

(Climate Change News, 12 Feb 2019) Grid operator boss calls on Brussels to approve funding for a new electricity connection to France to avoid isolation from continent.

Ireland’s grid operator is lobbying Brussels to fast track funding to connect the country to the rest of Europe, citing concerns about becoming isolated after Brexit, its boss told Climate Home News.

Ireland relies heavily on British energy. It shares its electricity market with Northern Ireland, with just two power links to the mainland, and receives most of its oil and gas imports from the UK.

While an abrupt, no-deal Brexit on 29 March is unlikely to stop those supplies, it could lead to disruptions if Europe and Britain’s rules diverge in future, energy industry representatives are warning.

With these risks in mind, state-owned EirGrid is urging the European Commission to approve funding for a planned €930m electricity link with France before the commission’s term ends late this year, according to chief executive Mark Foley.

“It’s a project of common interest and a project of enormous strategic importance to an island nation which, in a post-Brexit situation, is not connected to Europe,” Foley said on the sidelines of a conference at Dublin City University last week. “We’d like to achieve grant aid in formal terms in the lifetime of the current EU commission.”

The commission has already approved funding for studies of the Celtic Interconnector, which is deemed a cross-border project of common interest that can bolster the EU-wide energy market. If additional funding is secured, EirGrid and its French counterpart, RTE, hope to begin trading power in 2026, Foley added.

Plans for the link between southern Ireland and northwest France predate Brexit by about five years, and proponents say it will be crucial to both countries regardless of the UK’s future relationship with the EU.

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Climate Change News, 12 Feb 2019: Irish energy industry calls for new links to Europe amid Brexit fears