Interconnector ‘essential’ for business says industry

The inquiry into the interconnector will address environmental and other concerns around the scheme
The inquiry into the interconnector will address environmental and other concerns around the scheme

A group comprising key players across the power industry has become the second powerful lobby voice backing the long-awaited second North South Interconnector a the public inquiry into the plans began.

A day after business groups and companies across Northern Ireland underlined their support for the link, SmartGridIreland, whose members include General Electric, ESB, Glen Dimplex, NIE Energy, Power NI and Siemens, said it was a critical and strategically urgent transmission reinforcement for the island of Ireland.

The not-for-profit organisation says a second interconnector is essential to facilitating sufficient transfer capacity to move electricity to the point of demand at the lowest possible cost.

Paddy Turnbull of General Electric and chairman of SmartGridIreland said that the commissioning of a second North-South electricity interconnector will not only remove the current bottleneck allowing the most efficient transfer of power across the island, but it will facilitate the integration of renewable power sources on to the electricity system.

“Significant bottlenecks exist between the transmission systems of Ireland and Northern Ireland such that the cheapest produced electricity on the island of Ireland cannot be physically transferred to where it is required at all times of the year.

The bottle neck exists as a consequence of only having one high capacity interconnector link between the transmission systems covering both parts of the island.

“It is essential, not only for security of supply but also to provide confidence to inward investors with the benefits that flow from lower costs, competitiveness and a critical infrastructure supporting sustainable economic growth,” Mr Turnbull added.

The organisationis a collaborative enterprise promoting and supporting sustainable development and next-gen digital energy infrastructure in an effort to encourage economic growth, create jobs and develop new businesses.

The inquiry, being held in Armagh, will address significant environmental concerns over the building of the overhead power line.

It comes as details emerged of further problems for the well-established Moyle Interconnector which connects the province to Scotland.

The operator Mutual Energy confirmed that the 500MW link had been reduced to half capacity as the result of a “serious operational problem” when the Southern high voltage cable tripped, indicating a fault with the high voltage conductor.

The link, which has suffered several significant problems in recent years, will continue to run at 250MW capacity to Northern Ireland’s electricity system, the company said.