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Ireland and France to Trade Electricity Within Next Few Years as Undersea Interconnector Construction Begins

Ireland is set to establish a significant electricity trading partnership with France in the next three to four years as the construction of a 575-km undersea interconnector, known as the Celtic Interconnector, begins. Initially, Ireland will be the primary recipient of power, sourced from French-generated electricity. However, as Ireland develops multiple offshore wind farms, plans are in place for France to purchase renewable power from Ireland by the end of the decade.

The agreement was formalized with the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Ireland’s Environment Minister, Eamon Ryan, and the French Energy Minister, Agnes Pannier-Runacher. The Celtic Interconnector, estimated to cost €1.6 billion, will run from east Cork to north-west France, near Brest, with EU funding contributing to the project.

Upon completion, the interconnector will have a capacity of 700 megawatts, capable of powering 450,000 homes. Testing of the undersea cables is scheduled for 2026, and full operation is expected to commence in 2027. Ireland already has an interconnector with the UK and is building another direct cable, with plans for further interconnectors with the UK and France by the end of the decade and early next decade, respectively.

Eamon Ryan expressed interest in connecting to Spain and Belgium in the future, emphasising that increased interconnection allows countries to maximise renewable energy utilisation, reducing carbon emissions and electricity costs. France, with 70% nuclear-generated electricity, aims to double solar and biogas generation and quadruple geothermal power. Despite Ireland’s legal ban on nuclear power, the ministers emphasised the collaboration’s focus on security, cost reduction, and trading opportunities.

The memorandum is expected to facilitate knowledge-sharing between the two nations, especially in the realm of offshore wind development. The partnership underscores the potential for a greener and more interconnected energy future for both countries.

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