To trade wind energy from West Cork for French nuclear power

March 22, 2014 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

 

BY CATHERINE KETCH

 

AN interconnector between the south coast of Ireland and the north-west coast of France will facilitate the exchange of West Cork’s wind-generated energy for France’s nuclear power.

The two national transmission system operators – EirGrid and RTE, its French counterpart – signed a memorandum of understanding last summer to commission further preliminary studies on the feasibility of building a 600km submarine electricity interconnector between the two countries. The capacity of the new interconnector would be 700MW or the equivalent of power for 450,000 households and the project, if it went ahead, would in place by 2025.

The operators conducted studies in early 2013, which indicated that the project could be beneficial to electricity customers in both countries EirGrid has said. The benefits, according to EirGrid, would be increased security of supply, downward price pressure on electricity prices through competition and the potential to export renewable energy.

The spokesperson on the French side cited benefit from the varying wind resources of Ireland and the Continent as well as improving the electricity supply in the north-west part of France.

EirGrid carried out an economic feasibility report in 2009 highlighting the diversity between the two systems and the dominance of nuclear energy in France.

Further feasibility study is ongoing. The identification of feasible routes and landfall locations is expected to be completed early this year. Stage two for which a first round of tenders has been invited will involve a marine survey.

Last year EirGrid completed construction on the 500MW submarine East-West Interconnector between England and Wales.

Cork County Council’s draft development plan allows for the possible trebling of wind farms in West Cork and it is estimated that the region currently produces one fifth of the country’s wind energy.

With uncertainty now surrounding the Gridlink project, which has gone for further review, combined with the EU re-think on renewable targets post 2020, it remains unclear what infrastructure is required.

‘With EU member states now pulling out of binding targets on renewables, they cannot be relied upon to buy expensive Irish wind energy. There is a good chance that the Irish taxpayer will be burdened with another expensive “white elephant”,’ Tony Miller, a member of the group opposing the proposed Shehy More Wind Farm, said.

Campaigners against the Clashavoon to Dunmanway power line, which as well as providing security of supply to West Cork, is planned to take wind generated energy from the region to the national grid, have described the planning of the grid as disjointed.

The group People Before Pylons (PBP) made representations to Michael Creed TD recently requesting that the Clashavoon to Dunmanway project be included in the Gridlink review. No response has yet been received from the deputy.

‘This development should be stopped pending a full national debate on the whole of Grid 25,’ James Kiernan of PBP told The Southern Star.

 ‘Why would one proceed with one part of the jigsaw? It seems disjointed. They shouldn’t turn a sod here before they know what’s happening up the country,’ Mr Kiernan said, describing it as an ‘unnecessary line going nowhere.’

Mr Kiernan also said that while there were a lot of projected wind farms it was not guaranteed that they would all be built as many were still in the planning process.

PBP member Fritz Raake describes a scenario where 5,000km of new lines will criss-cross the country. ‘It will be like a massive spaghetti junction. No other country would allow it to happen,’ Mr Raake said.

PBP was set up to campaign for the undergrounding of the powerline which traverses scenic areas of West Cork.

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