Independent Study Report vindicates NEPPC case for undergrounding as a realistic solution

January 18, 2012

Download Report Here on International Expert Commission Report on North South Interconnector (*PDF 13MB)

The Minister for Energy, Pat Rabbitte T.D., has today brought to Government and published the report on the International Expert Commission which he had established in July 2011 to “review and report, within six months, on a case for, and cost of, undergrounding (all or part of) Meath-Tyrone 400KV power lines”.

The North Easy Pylon Pressure Campaign (NEPPC) welcomes the initiative taken by Fine Gael, spearheaded by Minister Shane McEntee, to engage a set of respected international experts to independently examine the feasibility and cost of undergrounding the North-South interconnector. NEPPC also welcomes the establishment of this expert group by Minister Rabbite and his decision that the report will have the opportunity to be objectively  analysed and discussed by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Natural Resources and Agriculture, prior to a Cabinet recommendation.

The Report is of significant value to the two key arguments surrounding the use undergrounding technology, namely feasibility and cost.
NEPPC have argued from the outset that undergounding the North-South interconnector was feasible, given the technological advances happening at a rapid pace. The Expert Report states quite clearly that undergrounding the North-South interconnector is now a ‘realistic solution’. This is primarily driven by ‘significant technical developments and a commercial breakthrough’ of the most recently developed VSC HVDC technology.

The Independent Expert group focused solely on technical costs of undergrounding versus overhead lines options. It did not examine other critical costs such as impact on agriculture, land and property devaluation, impact on landscape and visual consequences, or on the comparative health aspects of these options.

From the outside of the North-South interconnector project EirGrid refused to examine the undergrounding option, stating that it could be in the region of 25x higher than overhead lines. The Report published indicates a figure of €286Million for undergrounding which is equal to EirGrid’s stated costs for overhead lines for the North – South interconnector (€280M) at assumed power loading expectations.

‘When you factor in all the additional costs associated with overhead lines that are not covered in this report it makes the undergrounding option economically justified and viable’ stated Aimée Treacy, chairperson of NEPPC.

‘Furthermore, the Report clearly highlights that undergrounding is the only practical and publicly acceptable way forward for the vast majority of current major projects in Europe’, she stated. The Report notes that within the EU over 2,470km of Overhead lines are presently substantially delayed (only 450km are under construction), whilst some 700km of underground cables are currently under construction.  This is nearly twice as much going underground as on pylons’.
‘Technological progress is opening up a whole new opportunity for the grid to be upgraded using undergrounding’, she further stated.
‘ This Report clearly shows that it is “game on” in terms of undergrounding technology for Ireland, and we are confident that the Minister will now give undergrounding serious consideration as a key component of the ‘Grid 25’ project’ stated Aimée.

Ends –

Filed under: News & Events,Press Releases,Press Releases 2010-2012,Reports

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NEPP is the overall representative group for the people of Ireland's North East who advocate that high power electric cables should go underground.

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