North South Interconnector needed ahead of Brexit threat
Ibec and the CBI, the two major business groups in the Republic and Northern Ireland, have launched a new report setting out the economic importance and urgent need for the proposed 400kV overhead North South electricity Interconnector (NSIC). The report, prepared by Grant Thornton, demonstrates how the proposed Interconnector will not only safeguard electricity supply and increase efficiency of delivery, but is also essential to keeping business across the island competitive in the face of prevailing challenges from Brexit.
Ibec CEO Danny McCoy stated: “The major competitive challenges created by Brexit make construction of the North South Interconnector more relevant than ever before. Sufficient electricity supply is essential for growing our economy and is a significant factor in ensuring we seize the inward investment opportunities that will arise in the next few years. It is worrying, to say the least, that Northern Ireland is facing an electricity supply deficit by 2021, if North South electricity flows are not safeguarded. The Interconnector can address this problem by strengthening the electricity grid, reducing the risk of power shortages and blackouts, all at a lower cost to users. In fact, the new Interconnector will result in savings to consumers across the island of around £25.5m/€30m per year, and that is likely to grow over time. Poor interconnection at the moment means that generated electricity is regularly unused – a high cost that customers are paying for.”
“Adequate supply of energy underpins all economic activity, prosperity and jobs growth. The North South Interconnector is one of the most critical pieces of infrastructure needed for Ireland in the next few years. Its delivery is essential for the successful future operations of the All Island Single Electricity Market (SEM). As we face into the uncertainty of Brexit negotiations, we must progress its construction with added urgency. It is crucial that business and industry are fully supportive of this vital project. Any disruption to the delivery of the North South Interconnector will lead to an inferior grid and significant cost increases, which will ultimately negatively impact all electricity users.”
Both groups are now calling on the wider business community and politicians across the island to get behind the project. Now that the project has received planning permission in the Republic of Ireland, it is essential for business and industry, and the Irish economy, that no further delay occurs. Additional setbacks will only result in increasing costs and impact our competitiveness.
If delivered, Ibec and the CBI believe the Interconnector will:
- Safeguard the supply of sufficient electricity to meet growing demand.
- Increase efficiency of the Single Electricity Market and reduce cost.
- Support inward investment and underpin investment in new generating capacity.
- Reinforce the excellent progress which has been made in developing the All Island economy.
CBI Director, Angela McGowan said: “The Single Electricity Market (SEM) is an excellent example of how working in collaboration can provide tangible benefits for citizens and businesses across the island of Ireland. However, the success of all markets is underpinned by effective infrastructure. The successful delivery of the proposed North South Interconnector by 2021 will improve market efficiency, drive down costs for consumers, and guarantee Northern Ireland’s future security of supply. The business community is justifiably concerned that Northern Ireland is projected to face an electricity supply deficit from 2021. To address this problem, the Interconnector remains the best option in terms of cost, reliability and impact on the consumer. Little wonder that a recent survey reported that 87% of Northern Ireland businesses identified the delivery of the Interconnector as a top priority for the regional economy.”