Northern Ireland

Research says long-delayed electricity interconnector would mean greater efficiencies and potentially lower power prices

Cross-border power lines would enable increased levels of renewable energy to be transmitted across the island
Cross-border power lines would enable increased levels of renewable energy to be transmitted across the island Cross-border power lines would enable increased levels of renewable energy to be transmitted across the island

THE LONG-DELAYED electricity interconnector linking the north with the Republic would mean greater efficiencies and potentially lower power prices, according to new research.

A paper from the Economic and Social Research Institute (Esri) and the Shared Island Unit in the Department of the Taoiseach, said the 400 KV cross-border power lines would enable increased levels of renewable energy to be transmitted across the island.

.

The target in both jurisdications is for 80 per cent renewable energy by 2030.

The report says a higher level of renewables across the island would act to "dampen the price of electricity" and could reduce electricity prices by 4 per cent.

However, ageing electricity infrastructure means the potential to move power across the border is limited.

First mooted more than a decade ago, the north-south interconnector has been bedevilled by legal challenges and delays.

Last month, the Court of Appeal overturned a previous finding that former infrastructure minister Nichola Mallon breached the requirement to refer the planning decision to the Stormont executive.

A year earlier, a High Court judge dismissed a legal challenge to the project from a group of landowners.

A spokesperson for Soni (System Operator Northern Ireland) said the interconnector "remains a vital project for improving the efficiency of the electricity transmission system across the island".

"The recent Court of Appeal judgment confirms the planning and legal consent for the North South Interconnector," the spokesperson said.

"Soni welcomes the publication of the Esri research which reiterates the benefits of this project, in terms of helping both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland transition towards their renewables targets and strengthening the grid.”

Dr Muireann Lynch from Esri told RTÉ that the interconnector would be beneficial to strengthen the cross-border connection.

"It means that if one jurisdiction has an oversupply of capacity, they're able to transport electricity to the jurisdiction that's maybe under pressure," she said.