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Eamon Ryan via Twitter

Celtic Interconnector with France will promote clean energy and lower prices, says Taoiseach

The underwater cable connecting east Cork to Brittany will have the capacity to power 450,000 households.

LAST UPDATE | 25 Nov 2022

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN has approved the final plans for a multi-billion euro underwater cable which will connect Ireland’s electricity network to France by 2026.

The Celtic Interconnector will have the capacity of 700 megawatts of electricity, which is estimated to power 450,000 households.

€1.3 billion has been allocated to the project, which includes €530 million in grant funding from the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), with Ireland paying for 65% of the project and France paying 35% according to the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities (CRU).

However, the interconnector could cost as much as €1.6 billion by 2027.

This EU funding will be split between Réseau de Transport d’Électricité, France’s electricity transmission system operator, and Eirgrid in line with their investment (65% for Eirgrid and 35% for Réseau de Transport d’Électricité).

Maintenance and operational costs will be split 50-50 between Eirgrid and Réseau de Transport d’Électricité.

Speaking at a breakfast event this morning, titled ‘Ireland and France: Partners in Innovation for Energy Cooperation and Sustainability,’ the Taoiseach said:

“I am delighted to be in Paris this morning to witness this further step forward on the Celtic Interconnector project, by some distance the largest bilateral project between Ireland and France.” 

“The Celtic Interconnector will bring tangible benefits to the citizens of both France and Ireland by promoting the use of renewable energy, bringing down electricity prices, and helping ensure security of energy supply.  

“Today’s signing will allow construction work on the project to begin next year. 

“A remarkable 575km of cable will link my home County of Cork to Finistere in Brittany to bring energy to 450,000 homes. 

“Ireland and France, working together as European partners, are ready to meet our common challenge of delivering a sustainable and green energy system for the future.

“Today’s further progress on the Celtic interconnector is a concrete demonstration of our commitment to deliver.”

Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan, director general of Eirgrid Mark Foley and the French Minister for Energy Transition, Agnès Pannier-Runacher, also attended the signing.

The project was first announced in 2018 in the Government’s Project 2040 plans, which stated that it would bring down electricity prices for consumers through increased competition.

When the CRU and French regulation authorities estimated the cost of the project in 2019, a figure of €930 million was determined however the main supply contracts (including cables) caused the final cost to increase substantially. 

Agreements have been signed for the construction with Siemens Energy and French cable manufacturer Nexans, and for the financing, to the tune of €800 million, by the European Investment Bank, Danske Bank, Barclays and BNP.

The village of Knockraha in Co Cork has been identified as the optimum location for Ireland’s side of the grid connection.

After the signing, Minister Ryan said:

“The Celtic Interconnector technical and financing agreements confirmed today are the starting point for the construction of this historic subsea cable between East Cork and Brittany.”

“It will connect the Irish and French electricity networks and will improve the security of our electricity supply, help us to achieve our climate objectives and reduce the cost of electricity. 

“It means that we can import energy from Europe when we need it, and critically, it means that we can also export energy, particularly when we begin to realise the enormous potential of our off-shore wind capacity.”

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