Grid West project aims to bring massive renewable infrastructure to west
By Declan Varley
A plan to bring 21st century energy infrastructure to Galway and the West of Ireland was launched by EirGrid this week. By connecting the electricity generated by the region’s huge renewable energy resources, the Grid West project will facilitate significant job creation and investment as well as contributing to national recovery and growth.
Speaking at the launch, An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD said “As Ireland fights to regain economic sovereignty and put ourselves back on a path to recovery and growth, it is essential that we maximise the use of our indigenous resources, whether it is our people, our land or our natural resources. The West of Ireland is particularly rich in renewable energy resources and has the potential for much job creation. Harnessing and exploiting this resource for Ireland will require detailed planning involving high levels of engagement between communities and EirGrid that will allow the construction of critical infrastructure for the benefit of the West and for Ireland. This infrastructure will also assist the region to attract inward investment that requires a strong reliable source of power.”
Today marks the start of a public consultation phase on this project and I encourage people across the region to engage with the project team and provide feedback to EirGrid.”
The Grid West project will initially consist of a new high capacity power line linking Bellacorick in County Mayo to a strong point on the transmission grid. Based on the region’s huge renewable potential it is envisaged that, in time, the project will involve two high capacity power lines from Bellacorick, County Mayo, to both Cashla in County Galway and Flagford in County Roscommon.
Welcoming the launch of the EirGrid project, the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Mr Pat Rabbitte, highlighted the increasing importance of wind power in Ireland’s energy future and said that the benefits from this new infrastructure would be significant. “As we move in Ireland and across Europe to a low carbon economy, we will rely on greater use of renewable energy and a well functioning, well interconnected internal energy market. Harnessing the enormous renewable energy potential of the West will enable Ireland to have a more secure and competitive energy supply in the long term”.
Speaking at the launch, Dermot Byrne, EirGrid Chief Executive, referred to Grid25 - EirGrid’s plan to develop and upgrade the electricity transmission network from now until 2025. “This major initiative will put in place a safe, secure and affordable electricity supply throughout Ireland. It is a major undertaking which will take several years and represents an investment of €3.2 billion. The Grid West project is the one of the largest single Grid25 projects and the most significant in the west, initially accounting for €240m of the investment earmarked for the region”.
According to Alan McHugh, Grid West project manager, developing the project will involve a number of steps over the coming years. “The public will be consulted extensively through a series of consultations to gather information and feedback from the earliest stages of development right through to the completion of the project.
“Right now we are at the start of this project and EirGrid will be following a comprehensive consultation roadmap which will ensure that the views of all stakeholders interested in the project will be heard. The first stage of the Grid West Project is to publish and gather information on the study area, the search area within which the project will be located.
“We have established a dedicated website www.eirgridprojects.com/projects/gridwest and a lo-call information line, 1890 94 08 02 where the public can get more information and provide feedback. We will be opening information offices across the study area in the coming weeks and as the project develops we will hold open days in the counties involved. People can also email the project team at Gridwest@eirgrid.com”
A planning application under the Strategic Infrastructure Act is expected for submission to An Bord Pleanála in 2015.