EIRGRID’S plan to utilise the existing pylon infrastructure on the Cork-Kildare line rather than erecting new pylons across the country has been welcomed locally.
Last week, EirGrid confirmed that the Grid Link project – a proposed overhead 400 kV line from Cork to Kildare via Great Island- will not proceed.
The decision to scrap the hugely unpopular 220km pylon project follows the recommendation of an expert panel set up in January 2014 by then Minister for Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte.
Instead, new innovative technology option will be utilised to meet updated demand projections.
In EirGrid’s report to the independent panel, it set out a new and innovative technical solution, referred to as the ‘Regional Option’, based on technology which is capable of strengthening the existing grid infrastructure in the region.
This meets the needs of the project without building new large scale overhead infrastructure, according to EirGrid.
The Regional Option uses a technology known as ‘series compensation’.
It is an advanced, smart grid technology that will enable more power to flow through existing lines, and so does not require new 400 kV overhead lines.
To complete this solution, an underwater cable across the Shannon estuary is required in addition to some upgrade works to existing transmission lines.
“The emergence of the new ‘Regional Option’ means there is now no requirement to proceed with the previously proposed Grid Link 400 kV overhead line,” said Fintan Slye, Chief Executive of EirGrid.
“I am very pleased to confirm that we will now be moving ahead to deliver what I believe is a better option for all concerned. I would like to thank those communities who took the time to engage with us and provided us with such valuable feedback.”
Commenting on EirGrid’s announcement, Minister of State Paudie Coffey said: “The need for Ireland to secure its future from an energy security perspective is essential. It was envisaged that EirGrid would have to develop a new pylon network within Ireland to meet these demands. This caused a huge amount of concern in communities right across Waterford and people were not pleased about the lack of engagement by EirGrid at that time. I attended many public meetings across Waterford, including Clashmore, Portlaw, Lismore and Dungarvan.”
He continued: “I am delighted that EirGrid have listened and have reviewed how they can achieve the need to secure our energy needs into the future. The Grid Link Project will now not proceed as originally envisaged and instead the current network will be enhanced. Grid Link have stress tested the infrastructure out to 2025 and it meets all the demands for network requirements within that time frame.”
Also welcoming the news, Labour TD Ciara Conway stated: “I’m very pleased that a sensible solution has been reached. I met with large number of local individuals and groups who were clearly concerned about the impact of pylons. I warmly welcome the decision to use new technology to carry the power supply. This will come as a huge relief to people in communities across Waterford and particularly in the Comeraghs and West Waterford.”
Meanwhile, Carlow/Kilkenny TD John Paul Phelan said: “I strongly welcome the news that Eirgrid has found a new option to replace the Cork to Kildare power route, meaning that Kilkenny and Carlow have been spared further overhead pylons. People power has won out and I commend all the communities which rallied together and ultimately won!”
He added: “This is really good news for communities who pulled together and worked hard to resist further development of overhead pylons. Many groups came together to work at finding innovative solutions to avoid the Grid Link plan and protect their local areas.