Tuesday, 4 October 2011
Dáil Éireann Debate
411. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the position regarding the North-South interconnector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27646/11]
Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): The planning, development and routing of transmission line infrastructure is a matter for EirGrid, which is the State owned body responsible for the operation of the electricity transmission system. I have no statutory function regarding the planning and construction of energy networks.
The Government fully endorses the strategic national importance of investing in Ireland’s electricity transmission infrastructure. In that context the Meath-Tyrone 400KV Interconnector is a key strategic project for the economies and consumers both North and South. It is also critical to ensuring energy supply adequacy on the island of Ireland.
The Programme for Government committed to the establishment of an independent international expert commission to review within six months the case for, and cost of, undergrounding all or part of the Meath-Tyrone line. The Commission was appointed in July and its work is underway.
412. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his plans to prioritise the connection of high capacity windfarm developments to grid in order of merit rather than chronology of application; his further plans for the development of windfarm clusters; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27648/11]
Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Connections to the electricity grid are a matter for the Commission for Energy Regulation in the first instance and I have no direct role in the process.
It is estimated that 4630MW of renewable generation would be required, depending on economic growth assumptions and demand projections, to ensure 40% of electricity consumption from renewable sources by 2020 and to meet Ireland’s legally binding renewable energy targets under the EU Renewable Energy Directive.
At the end of June 2011, there was 1459MW of wind connected to the grid in addition to 238MW of hydro generation and 30MW of other renewable generation. A further 1000MW of new renewable generation from Gate 1 and Gate 2 have accepted grid connection offers and are awaiting grid connection.
To date there have been 3 ‘Gates’ providing grid connection to new renewable generation. Under Gate 1 and Gate 2, 1755MW of connection offers were made and accepted. Under Gate 3, 3900MW of offers issued to renewable generators. This amount of renewable generation is sufficient for the achievement of Ireland’s target.
EirGrid’s GRID25 strategy sets out the high level plan for delivering upgraded electricity transmission network to 2025. EirGrid is working to enhance the national network capacity between now and 2025 by reinforcing existing lines, deploying new grid technology and building new transmission lines.
All Gate 3 grid offers have now issued. This is an important milestone for the industry and is a fundamental on the road towards meeting the 40% renewable electricity target. A Gate 3 Liaison Group involving the CER, EirGrid and ESB Networks, along with industry representatives, was established to assist in communication on issues relating to the Gate among key stakeholders. The next phases of Gate 3 including project delivery of accepted offers and offer modifications are underway.
The Programme for Government states that a future Gate 4 if required will be plan-led, i.e. future wind farms are to be built in locations where wind regime is best and built in numbers or in clusters to reduce cost of connection to grid. In the event that a Gate 4 process is contemplated in due course, my Department will be engaging with the Commission for Energy Regulation, EirGrid, ESB networks and the industry on its design in light, inter alia, of the Programme for Government.
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