East–West Interconnector

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East–West Interconnector
Country United Kingdom, Ireland
General direction East–West
From Shotton, North Wales 53°13′38″N 3°4′22″W / 53.22722°N 3.07278°W / 53.22722; -3.07278 (East West Interconnector - Shotton HVDC Static Inverter)
Passes through Irish Sea
To Rush North Beach, County Dublin 53°28′16″N 6°34′3″W / 53.47111°N 6.56750°W / 53.47111; -6.56750 (Eirgrid East West Interconnector - Woodland HVDC Static Inverter)
Ownership information
Partners EirGrid
Construction information
Manufacturer of conductor/cable ABB
Manufacturer of substations ABB
Construction started 2010
Commissioned 2012
Technical information
Type submarine cable
Type of current HVDC Light
Total length 261 km (162 mi)
Power rating 500 MW
AC voltage 400 kV
DC voltage ±200 kV
No. of circuits 1
EW 1 East–West Interconnector
Country United Kingdom, Ireland
General direction east–west
From Pentir, North Wales
Passes through Irish Sea
To Arklow, County Wicklow
Ownership information
Partners Imera Power
Construction information
Manufacturer of conductor/cable ABB
Manufacturer of substations ABB
Technical information
Type submarine cable
Type of current HVDC Light
Total length 135 km (84 mi)
Power rating 350 MW
AC voltage 220/400 kV
DC voltage ±150 kV
No. of circuits 1

The East–West Interconnector is a high-voltage direct current submarine and subsoil power cable which connects the British and Irish electricity markets. The project has been developed by the Irish national grid operator EirGrid.


The interconnector is aimed to increase competition and security of supply, and better use the capacity of wind energy.[1] The additional capacity headroom provided by the interconnection will assist in reducing the Electricity Supply Board's dominant position in the Irish electricity market. By joining the two markets it will allow Irish suppliers to access power in the British market and for Britain-based suppliers to enter the Irish market without initially having to commit to large capital expenditure, significantly reducing barriers to entry. Irish renewable generators will benefit from the interconnection as it will increase their available market and may make it more economically attractive to construct more large scale renewable generation.[citation needed]

ESB Power Generation announced in 2007 its intention to withdraw approximately 1,300 MW of capacity by 2010. This would effectively reduce the installed capacity of fully dispatchable plant from 6,437 MW to 5,150 MW. This closure of older inefficient power plants, such as a 461 MW fossil fuel capacity at Poolbeg Generating Station Dublin,[2] and coupled with the high growth demand forecasts presented, created a major threat to the security of the Irish electricity grid.[3]

The interconnection will enhance security of supply and grid stability on both countries and create conditions suitable for the development of a new regional market. The European Commission has expressed the view that European electricity markets would benefit from further interconnection investments. The EU Trans-European Energy Networks Project have classified the UK–Irish Interconnector as a priority project.[citation needed]

Upon the completion of the project in 2012, that connects County Dublin with Wales, Ireland has partly been supported with electricity from the Welsh 490 MW Wylfa nuclear power station.[4][5]


Studies for the UKIrish interconnection date back to the 1970s when the Irish Electricity Supply Board first examined the possibility of linking the UK and Irish electricity grids. Further studies were conducted in the early 1990s and a joint study was recently conducted between Electricity Supply Board and National Grid plc with the support of the European Union.

In 2004 the Commission for Energy Regulation on request of the Irish Government sought proposals from the private sector to construct two 500MW merchant interconnectors between Ireland and Wales. A private project was established by Imera Power who was contracted to develop two 350 MW interconnectors through its affiliate East West Cable One Ltd. in 2006.

In 2006 the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, instructed the Commission for Energy Regulation to commence the development of a regulated interconnector of 500 MW as it was deemed to be critical infrastructure.

Eirgrid commenced work on the East West Interconnector in 2007. It was completed in 2012 and on 20 September 2012 it was inaugurated in Meath by UK secretary for energy and climate change Ed Davey, Irish prime minister Enda Kenny and European Commissioner for Energy Günther Oettinger.[6]

On 8 September 2016, the interconnector had a fault that occurred during an annual maintenance at the converter station in Meath. The maintenance was carried out by contractor ABB. The interconnector re-enetred service on the 20 December 2016 with a fully rated 500 MW import, however exports to the UK were still limited to roughly 280MW.[7] As of June 2017 the cable is at full capacity in both directions.

Technical features[edit]

The Eirgrid East–West Interconnector has a total length of 261 kilometres (162 mi), of which 186 kilometres (116 mi) is submarine cable and 75 kilometres (47 mi) is subsoil cable. The link connects converter stations at Rush North Beach, County Dublin, Ireland, and Barkby Beach in North Wales. The interconnection uses ±200 kV HVDC Light cables with a capacity of 500 MW. It is the first HVDC Light transmission system project, to use ±200 kV cables. The cables and converter stations were provided by ABB.[1][8] The project was financed by a €300 million loan from the European Investment Bank, capital investments from commercial banks, EirGrid equity and a €110 million grant from the European Commission.[9]

East West Cable One Ltd. project[edit]

A competing project was undertaken by East West Cable One Ltd (EW1), also known as the East West Interconnector. The EW1 cable with a capacity of 350 MW is to be connected at Arklow substation in County Wicklow and Pentir Substation in North Wales. The second cable known as EW2 was a second phase project with a capacity of 350–500 MW is proposed between Wexford and Pembroke.

Both developments are to be funded by the private sector on commercial basis; their costs would not be recovered by system tariffs for all end users in either UK or Ireland, but rather by the users of the cable, large wholesale energy traders. Corresponding exemption from the third party access rule was granted by the European Commission on 23 November 2009 for 25 years for phase one and 20 years for phase two.[10]

The East West Cable One Ltd. also commenced work in 2007. This project is still under development and is being re-engineered by the owners of East West Cable One Ltd. for electricity export to the UK but with a later commissioning date of 2019.[citation needed][dubious ]

Eirgrid Interconnector Sites[edit]

Site Coordinates
Shotton Static Inverter Plant 53°13′38″N 3°4′22″W / 53.22722°N 3.07278°W / 53.22722; -3.07278 (East West Interconnector - Shotton HVDC Static Inverter)
Cable enters sea 53°20′41″N 3°24′8″W / 53.34472°N 3.40222°W / 53.34472; -3.40222 (Cable enters sea)
Cable leaves sea 53°31′29″N 6°4′56″W / 53.52472°N 6.08222°W / 53.52472; -6.08222 (Cable leaves sea)
Woodland HVDC Static Inverter 53°28′16″N 6°34′3″W / 53.47111°N 6.56750°W / 53.47111; -6.56750 (East West Interconnector - Woodland HVDC Static Inverter)


  1. ^ a b "East West Interconnector". ABB. 2009-12-01. Retrieved 2010-02-28. 
  2. ^ http://www.finfacts.com/irelandbusinessnews/publish/article_1010398.shtml Poolbeg Thermal (461MW) (Dublin) (Oil / Gas). Poolbeg comprises two separate plants: the three thermal units (461MW) and the combined cycle gas plant (460MW) which opened in 2000 will remain in operation
  3. ^ Independent TSO EirGrid Generation Adequacy Report 2007-2013 (PDF) (Report). Eirgrid. 2006-11-01. Retrieved 2011-06-21. 
  4. ^ http://www.irishexaminer.com/opinion/letters/that-nukes-that-argument-233440.html
  5. ^ http://www.dcenr.gov.ie/NR/rdonlyres/DD9FFC79-E1A0-41AB-BB6D-27FAEEB4D643/0/DCENRGreenPaperonEnergyPolicyinIreland.pdf page 50
  6. ^ UK-Ireland energy cable opens to bolster wind power
  7. ^ Eirgrid All Island Interconnection
  8. ^ "East-West Interconnector will move Ireland closer to heart of European electricity sector" (PDF) (Press release). Commission for Energy Regulation. 2009-03-29. Retrieved 2010-02-28. 
  9. ^ "EIB to invest up to €300 Million in EirGrid East West Interconnector" (PDF) (Press release). European Investment Bank. 2009-09-28. Retrieved 2010-02-28. 
  10. ^ "European Commission Grants Imera EU Exemption for East West Interconnectors". Transmission & Distribution World. Penton Media, Inc. 2009-11-23. Retrieved 2010-02-28. 

See also[edit]

External links[edit]