Ambitious Proposal Unveiled for Scotland-Northern Ireland Electricity Link
Exciting plans have recently been unveiled for the construction of a new electricity connection between Scotland and Northern Ireland. Transmission Investment, the company spearheading the initiative, has officially applied for an electricity transmission license, marking one of the initial regulatory milestones in the project’s development.
Since 2001, a 500-megawatt interconnector between Scotland and Northern Ireland has been successfully operated by Mutual Energy. However, Transmission Investment aims to take this connection further with its project named LirIC. The goal is to establish an additional capacity of up to 700MW, fostering a stronger link between the Irish Single Electricity Market and the wholesale electricity market in Great Britain. Such an achievement would provide over 40% of the winter peak demand in Northern Ireland.
Keith Morrison, the project director of LirIC, expressed his enthusiasm, stating, “The application for a transmission license is an early milestone in a long process, but it’s significant in that it moves us one stage closer towards delivering this very exciting project.”
The envisioned project encompasses the establishment of two converter stations, one in Northern Ireland and another in Scotland, connected by an approximately 130km (80-mile) cable, subject to final route determination. Detailed studies are being conducted to identify potential routes and locations.
Transmission Investment estimates that the project could require an investment of around £700 million. Interconnectors like LirIC play a crucial role in the decarbonization efforts of the electricity sector, enhancing capacity to accommodate variable power sources such as wind, thereby facilitating a greener energy transition.
Martin Doherty, an expert from the Centre for Advanced Sustainable Energy at Queen’s University Belfast, emphasized the significance of strengthening Northern Ireland’s interconnectivity with partners in Great Britain and Ireland, highlighting the benefits such a project can offer.
Additionally, long-awaited plans for an interconnector between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are also underway. Although planning approval for the southern section was granted in the Republic of Ireland in 2016, the northern section faced delays. However, in 2020, the then-infrastructure minister of Northern Ireland, Nichola Mallon, granted the project the necessary go-ahead, overcoming previous hurdles. Despite ongoing opposition from local campaigners, a High Court judge upheld the planning permission, albeit identifying a legal flaw in the decision-making process.
The proposed Scotland-Northern Ireland electricity link, along with the interconnector plans involving the Republic of Ireland, showcases the region’s commitment to enhancing energy infrastructure and fostering stronger connections in pursuit of a more sustainable and interconnected future.