Moyle Interconnector ‘future proofed’ following control system upgrade

Moyle Interconnector’s control system in Co Antrim.
Moyle Interconnector’s control system in Co Antrim.

A FOUR-year project to upgrade the Moyle Interconnector’s control system has been completed.

Mutual Energy, which owns and operates the interconnector, said the refurbishment will improve the security of supply for electricity users in the north.

The 500 megawatt high-voltage direct current (HVDC) link runs from Islandmagee in Co Antrim to Ayrshire in Scotland.

The interconnector had been impacted by a number of faults throughout the previous decade.

Work started on the refurbishment project four years ago, with two years of design and manufacturing followed by a year of factory testing in 2021, before site works commenced earlier this year.

Mutual Energy said the work, carried out with Siemens Energy minimised the impact to day-to-day operations, with the interconnector maintaining 50 per cent capacity for most of the project.

The work will also see the installation of a replica of the control system at the National HVDC Centre in Cumbernauld, Scotland by the end of 2022 which the operator said will allow real time simulations to be carried out to evaluate performance and test future software releases.

“For the past 20 years, the Moyle Interconnector has been a key asset serving Northern Ireland’s energy needs,” said Mutual Energy boss Paddy Larkin.

“Already one of the most reliable interconnectors in the world, this upgrade enhances the operation and functionality of Moyle, ensuring the interconnector remains fully equipped to deliver electricity between Scotland and Northern Ireland and provide valuable services to help the electricity system operators in NI and GB manage the electricity network effectively.

“We are very grateful to our partners, particularly Siemens Energy who led on the upgrade, for the successful completion of this project.

“For us it was crucial that downtime was minimised during the works to allow normal operations to continue as far as possible, and we are delighted that Siemens Energy were able to deliver on this requirement.

“These improvements will ensure that Moyle can continue to deliver safe, reliable and secure operation, while accommodating more variable system conditions, to meet the needs of Northern Ireland consumers in the years ahead.”

Hauke Jürgensen, senior vice president grid solutions at Siemens Energy, said: "While electricity generation from renewable energies is increasing, we also see how the demands on the electricity grid are changing.

“The refurbishment was an important step to ensure that the interconnector can meet these demands: In addition to the transport of green electricity, the modernised control system now also improves security of supply by flexibly providing additional grid services such as frequency support and reacting fast to market dynamics.”

Partners on the project included Siemens Energy, TransGrid Solutions, TNEI and Arthur Cox.