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Progress on East-West Interconnector
The month of September 2009 witnessed significant progress towards the development of the East-West Interconnector (“EWIC”), the electricity interconnector between Ireland and the United Kingdom being developed by EirGrid, the operator of Ireland’s electricity transmission system.
Firstly, on 15 September, the Strategic Infrastructure Division of An Bord Pleanála, the Irish planning authority, granted planning permission for the project. The permission is in respect of the location and construction of a converter station in Woodland, County Meath and the installation of underground cables to the coast at Rush, County Dublin and in the seabed out to the foreshore limit.
Then, on 28 September, EirGrid and the European Investment Bank (“EIB”) signed a deal for the EIB to lend EirGrid up to €300 million towards construction of the EWIC. The total cost of the project is estimated at approximately €600 million.
The EWIC will be approximately 260 kilometres long and will connect Ireland and the United Kingdom between Rush in County Dublin and Barkby Beach in North Wales. Electricity cables will run along the seabed between these two locations and, on land, they will connect underground to converter stations at Woodland in County Meath and Deeside in North Wales.
The EWIC will have a capacity of 500 megawatts. It will allow for the importation and exportation of electricity to and from Ireland. Anticipated benefits of the EWIC include greater security of supply, a more competitive electricity market and encouragement for the development of renewable energy.
Construction is due to commence in 2010 and is expected to take two years to complete.