The benefits of increasing grid interconnection between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

The proposed second North-South Interconnector is a crucial piece of economic infrastructure which will support prosperity and employment across the island of Ireland. It will ensure the effective operation of an efficient all island electricity market and support the provision of a secure, sustainable and cost-efficient electricity supply in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The project has the full support of both Ibec and the CBI.

Supporting prosperity and employment across the island of Ireland

The Single Electricity Market (SEM) is an excellent example of how working in collaboration has provided proven benefits for citizens and businesses in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Collaboration through the SEM enables greater economies of scale that is more attractive to investors, improves competition –thereby lowering costs –and improves security of supply.

Like everything, the transmission and supply of electricity to employers and homes in every part of the island is underpinned by infrastructure; in this case, the current, long standing and insufficient, 275kV North-South Interconnector running from Tandragee to Louth. However, if the island of Ireland is to reap the full benefits of the SEM then a second North-South Interconnector must be constructed.

Good roads and efficient public transport are important to the success of the all island economy, but the provision of first-class electrical infrastructure is vital. And while we may take its availability for granted, without electricity, there is no economy.

If there is not sufficient electricity generation, then businesses cannot expand. If the cost of electricity is too high, then our businesses become less competitive. If renewable electricity generation cannot get to market, then both jurisdictions’ decarbonisation efforts are for naught.

Domestic and non-domestic consumers in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland rely on the SEM to provide an affordable, sustainable and secure electricity supply. This fact remains unchanged following the United Kingdom’s (UK) decision to leave the European Union (EU) and investors need clarity on the construction of the second North-South Interconnector. The UK Government has recognised the importance of avoiding disruption to the SEM and the interconnector remains a real priority for businesses in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.1

In an effort to better inform the debate, Ibec and CBI Northern Ireland commissioned the professional services firm Grant Thornton to research the economic benefits of constructing the second North-South Interconnector. Their research reached four main conclusions on this proposed development.

  1. It safeguards the economy’s supply of electricity;
  2. It will increase efficiency of the Single Electricity Market and reduce costs;
  3. It will support inward investment; and
  4. It will support sustainability.