Construction BUSINESS

EirGrid’s Pivotal Role in Decarbonising Ireland’s Electricity System

 Breaking News

EirGrid’s Pivotal Role in Decarbonising Ireland’s Electricity System

EirGrid’s Pivotal Role in Decarbonising Ireland’s Electricity System
May 20
16:23 2024

Michael Mahon, Chief Infrastructure Officer at EirGrid, outlines the essential role EirGrid plays in transforming Ireland’s electricity grid to accommodate renewable energy sources.

Transitioning to Renewable Energy

EirGrid is tasked with operating, developing, and enhancing Ireland’s electricity grid and market. Over the next decade, Ireland’s electricity system will undergo unprecedented changes. Historically, the country relied on fossil-fuel generators powered by oil, gas, and coal. Although environmentally damaging, these sources provided reliable and consistent energy.

However, renewable energy presents a different challenge. Wind and solar power are less reliable and often located far from existing infrastructure. Managing these renewable sources on the grid introduces complex engineering and technological challenges for EirGrid and the broader energy sector.

Infrastructure Enhancements for Renewable Integration

To connect more renewable energy sources, Ireland needs significant reinforcements, upgrades, and new infrastructure. EirGrid’s Shaping Our Electricity Future plan details these necessary developments, emphasizing the importance of interconnection with neighboring power systems. Such interconnections will help maximize the use of surplus renewable energy, accommodate variable generation, and ensure a secure electricity supply.

The Celtic Interconnector: A Gateway to Europe

One of EirGrid’s flagship projects is the Celtic Interconnector, a subsea cable linking Ireland’s and France’s electricity grids. This 575-kilometer cable will connect a substation in Knockraha, Cork, to one in La Martyre, France, enabling the exchange of electricity sufficient to power 450,000 homes. Construction, which began last year, is a collaboration with French operator RTÉ and is partially funded by the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility.

The project includes onshore work such as trenching and ducting for land cables, installation of land cables, and construction of a converter station. Marine surveys are underway to prepare for offshore cable installation next year. The Celtic Interconnector will feature a HVAC land circuit from Knockraha Substation to a converter station near Carrigtwohill, a HVDC land circuit to Youghal’s Claycastle Beach, and a HVDC submarine circuit.

Scheduled for completion in 2026, this will be Ireland’s first direct energy link to an EU member state. The European electricity system, the world’s largest interconnected grid, includes over 400 interconnectors, connecting nearly 600 million people. With its substantial wind resources, Ireland is poised to become a significant contributor to this system.

Supporting Renewable Development in Southern Ireland

To support projects like the Celtic Interconnector and other strategic initiatives, EirGrid opened a new office in Cork last year. This year, they plan to expand their team in Cork to facilitate the connection of new renewable projects in the southern region.

Advancing Towards a Renewable-Ready Grid

Beyond infrastructure, technological and operational solutions are essential for a successful transition to clean energy. Currently, up to 75% of Ireland’s electricity can come from variable renewables like wind and solar at any given time—a limit known as the system non-synchronous penetration (SNSP). EirGrid is exploring ways to increase this limit to enhance renewable integration.

A Generational Opportunity

Ambition is crucial for implementing the extensive changes required to secure a low-carbon future and meet government targets of 80% renewable electricity by 2030. This transformation is vital to addressing the climate crisis and ensuring a sustainable energy system for future generations.

About Author



Related Articles

Constrcution Summit

The Magazine – Construction Business

The Magazine – Construction Summit – 2023

The Magazine – Construction Summit – 2024

New Subscriber

    Subscribe Here