US announces EU trade sanctions on same day as Commissions €530M Celtic Interconnector award

In: GridInterconnectors
On the same day that the USA threatens to impose $7.5 billion of tariffs on EU goods to the USA (2 October 2019),  the funding of almost €1 million per kilometre has been announced by the European Commission in order to provide a subsea electricity interconnector, Celtic Interconnector,  between the Republic of Ireland and France.

The decision follows the submission in June of an application for funding by project developers Ireland's EirGrid and France's Réseau de Transport d’Electricité (RTE). The two companies submitted the application under the Commission’s 2019 Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) Energy Programme.

The total amount of the award for this single project was equivalent to almost 70% of the €750 million available to finance projects of common interest (PCI's) announced earlier this year under the multi-annual work programme set up to grant financial aid in the field of energy infrastructure under the Connecting Europe Facility, whereby the support mechanism is made available to energy infrastructure projects that fail to receive adequate financing from the market.
.. project not commercially viable ..

One of the eligibility criteria for proposals for works is that “the project is commercially not viable according to the business plan and other assessments carried out, notably by possible investors or creditors or the national regulatory authority (see The decision on incentives and its justification referred to in Article 13(2) of the TEN-E Regulation shall be taken into account when assessing the project’s commercial viability.” ).

As expected EirGrid has welcomed yesterday’s decision by the European Commission totalling €530 million to the high-voltage electricity cable linking Ireland and France.

EirGrid and RTE estimate the total cost to exceed €1 billion to build the interconnector, which will provide Ireland’s first direct electricity link to Continental Europe. It will be able to import and export up to 700 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 450,000 homes, and will go live in 2026.

Mark Foley, EirGrid Chief Executive, said: “The Celtic Interconnector is a key part of our strategic goal to transform Ireland’s power system. In the coming years we will break new ground in the amount of renewable electricity we manage on the electricity system.

“Interconnection with France supports this as it makes the power system more resilient and efficient. This added strength will become increasingly important as renewables become the primary energy source on the national grid."

Ireland prohibits Nuclear power

Currently Ireland only has connections both on land and Sea to the UK. Ironically receiving electricity from France where 72% of the electricity supply is from nuclear power (72.3% of total production in 2016),  Ireland prohibits the production of electricity by nuclear fission, under the Electricity Regulation Act, 1999 (Section 18). However the enforcement of this law is only applicable to electricity generated within Irish borders.  

Mr Foley added that the Celtic Interconnector would also apply downward pressure on the cost of electricity to consumers in Ireland and provide a direct fibre optic communications link between Ireland and France.

François Brottes, Chairman of the executive board of RTE, said: “The support of the European commission for this electricity interconnector between France and Ireland is a major step forward in the development of an always sustainable, cost efficient, resilient and integrated European grid which will enable the transition to a low carbon energy future.”

Since 2011, EirGrid and RTE have carried out series of joint studies into the feasibility of the interconnector. Should the proposed interconnector successfully pass through the planning process, the studies indicate that it would benefit electricity customers in Ireland, France and the EU.

The interconnector will travel 575 kilometres from East Cork to the north-west coast of Brittany.

The European Commission has already designated the Celtic Interconnector a Project of Common Interest (PCI). PCIs are key cross-border projects that link the energy systems of EU countries.

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