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Govt secures €530m to gain access to Europe’s energy grid

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From The Irish Examiner.

The Government has secured €530m in funding to help secure access to Europe’s energy grid.

The Celtic Interconnector is an underground cable which will mean Ireland can access electricity from France.

At the moment, Ireland only has a connection with the UK.

The European Commission funding means Ireland will still have access to the EU’s internal market after Brexit.

Communications Minister Richard Bruton said there will be a number of benefits.

He said: “This project will not only make our electricity system greener, it will also ensure that our electricity system is more secure and will mean that prices will be cheaper.

“This allows us to build up our possibility for renewables on the grid. It will mean prices will be cheap, so it’s a win-win on all fronts,” Mr Bruton added.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has hailed plans for the new €1bn energy interconnector as being crucial to ensuring this country’s ongoing economic security if a no-deal Brexit strikes.

Mr Varadkar said more than half of the money will come from the EU and that the plans will see the facility built by the mid-2020s.

Under long-flagged plans, the Government confirmed it is planning to build a Celtic Interconnector between East Cork and France to guarantee ongoing energy links between Ireland and continental EU.

As previously reported by the Irish Examiner, the project is due to be completed by 2026 and is predicted to be able to provide energy for at least 450,000 homes each day when it is fully in place.

The project is due to include a 10-acre electrical converter site along the former Midleton-Youghal railway among a series of other infrastructure developments over the coming years.

It is intended to help ensure wind energy can be quickly sent to and from Ireland and France, creating a link between this country and the continent which can bypass Britain.

Alongside Environment Minister Richard Bruton and Business Minister Heather Humphreys at Government Buildings, Mr Varadkar said the move will prove crucial to both Ireland’s climate change plans and the imminent Brexit battle.

“This is really important for two reasons. First of all because the UK is going to leave the EU and we need an alternative connection to the EU.

“Secondly, it’s going to be very important in terms of area security, because by connecting Ireland’s electricity grid to France and Europe it means when the wind is blowing in Ireland we can export it to the continent, and when the wind is not blowing in Ireland but is in other parts of continental Europe it can be exported all around.

“We had hoped to get some EU funding, but we didn’t expect to get quite as much,” he said.

When completed, the Celtic Interconnector project will transmit high voltage direct current from Brittany in France to Youghal in Cork which will then be converted into alternating current at the converter station.