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North-South interconnector 'ready to enter construction phase' after independent review

Construction is anticipated to be completed by 2026.

AN INDEPENDENT REVIEW has found that the conclusions of a 2018 commission on the decision to build the North-South Interconnector above ground remains valid.

The interconnector will link the electricity transmission networks of Ireland and Northern Ireland by means of a 138km long, high-capacity (1500MW) interconnector in counties Cavan, Monaghan and Meath.

The plan, which was first devised almost 20 years ago, has met with resistance from some landowners who want the interconnector to be placed underground.

The option of undergrounding the interconnector has been assessed in five reports and studies.

However, today’s review concludes that the interconnector cannot be undergrounded because it would be more expensive, less reliable and less stable.

“Without those benefits, which a HVDC underground cable would not give, the savings and benefits to the consumer would be substantially less,” the Department of the Environment stated.

With the review’s recommendation that the interconnector be built above ground and planning already approved in both Ireland and Northern Ireland, the interconnector is now ready to enter the construction phase.

Construction is anticipated to be completed by 2026.

The project, which is being undertaken by Eirgrid and SONI in Northern Ireland, would more than double the power transfer between North and South.

Reacting to the review’s decision, the Department of the Environement stated that the interconnector will be able to accommodate a high level of renewable energy, thereby decarbonising Ireland’s electricity grid and “contributing to the achievement of Ireland’s climate objectives”.

The project is also expected to reduce the cost of electricity to consumers on the island, with forecasted savings and benefits to reach €87 million per year by 2030 (shared between Ireland and Northern Ireland).

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