One of the most popular energy and economic blogs in Ireland
Monday, 20 February 2017
The French - Irish Interconnector
Pat Swords on the proposed Interconnector from Ireland to France :
JP Morgan famously said: “A man has two reasons, the good reason and the real reason”. Thought about that today when I saw the latest spin from Eirgrid, i.e. spending €1 billion of our money, which was of course for our wonderful benefit:
One has to laugh at the total ignorance of the press, do they ever actually think about the crap they write, although if we had to pay to read it like in the past, nobody really would anymore.
This €1 billion interconnector to France is to power 450,000 homes and increase security of supply, which is a bit daft, as we already have a system, which does that and has been ultra reliable for decades, so why do we need to spend another €1 billion on another one to do the same thing?
Yes France has a lot of cost competitive nuclear, but when the cold weather hits France, their electricity consumption soars, as they have a lot of domestic electric heating. If you don’t believe me watch the dial on the top left when the cold weather comes in, they are really struggling to match demand during these periods: http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/france/
When the cold weather hits France it often hits here too. So if we bring in French nuclear off peak and at competitive prices, this is a short term gain, but means that some of our existing generation capacity will simply in time shut up shop. So what happens then when it gets real cold? Of course the French will suffer blackouts, as the lovely new interconnector keeps sending French electricity to Ireland. After all there is plenty of precedent of such issues and how we can rely on the EU’s trading ‘rules’ when the ‘chips are down’:
Maybe people will smell the coffee when the power eventually comes back on and they can brew it?
So let’s get down to the real reason, which one will never get from the so called professionally paid news media. One has to ferret it out oneself, such as using the Aarhus information rights utilised effectively in the article above. However, isn’t it amazing how our so called ‘public servants’ (don’t make me laugh), try every trick in the book to obstruct citizens seeking information, even to the point of breaking the laws, which apply to them?
With regard to this wonderful interconnector, it is part of the EU’s Projects of Common Interest, which has been part of a long drawn out Communication at UNECE, which is in its final phase with the draft findings and recommendations likely to be out this spring. The EU fought tooth and nail, right to the head civil servant in the EU Catherine Day (wouldn’t you know it Irish!), that nobody would have access to information relating to the justification for these projects. However, go to Annex 6 of the Communication and Questionnaire for E 153 – Grid Link (page 83/119 of the pdf)
“This investment is planned primarily to facilitate the integration of 1,283 MW of wind generation in the south of the country. This is approximately equivalent to 0,054 GW/1000 km2 based on GW of additional wind installed within county boundaries. Because of the favourable wind conditions on the island of Ireland and offshore there is interest (evidenced by applications for grid connections) in developing renewable generation capacity well in excess of what is required for native demands. The connection of such capacity can only be facilitated if further interconnection is installed to provide access for this generation to the British and continental European markets, in addition it will facilitate future interconnection to Great Britain or France.”
One of the things that is strikingly clear, is that the Irish grid system can’t take more wind without a major build-out, which includes more interconnectors. So developers may well get their planning for wind turbines, but the realty of project completion and operation hinges on other developments in grid infrastructure, including those interconnectors. The East West interconnector, linking Malahide to the Welsh grid, cost Irish consumers over €600 million and the UK consumers not a cent. It was raised, but not addressed in the first Communication I brought in 2010 to UNECE.
For instance, the below from what is a ‘Green tinged (and funded) German think Tank’:
Social cost benefit analysis of interconnector investment: A critical appraisal Bremen Energy Working Paper No. 02, July 2010 (published in Energy Policy, 39(6), 2011, pp. 3096-3105.) Michiel de Nooij
“Some, like the European commission, claim that Europe needs more transmission capacity and interconnectors. This paper studies interconnector investment decisions from the perspective of a social cost benefit analysis (maximising total welfare in a country). For two European decisions to build an interconnector (NorNed and the East West Interconnector) the analysis underlying the decisions is discussed in detail, and will be compared with lessons from theory and decisions made in other jurisdictions (Nordel, California and Australia). The key findings are that (i) it is unclear how much demand for transmission capacity and interconnectors there actually is, and thus how large the benefits of investing will be. (ii) Both studies analyzed are not correct. Main criticism includes that they do not take the reaction of producers to new interconnection capacity into account; ignore part of the potential benefits of more competition; and make a strange assumption with respect to discounting. (iii) Decisions in Europe are taken very differently, leading to situations in which approval of an investment might depend on who has to approve. (iv) Therefore, it is unlikely that interconnector and transmission investment decisions in Europe currently are maximizing social welfare. Some lessons for future cost benefit analysis are drawn.”
In other words, the figures were a fudge and there was no rational economic justification for it, it all came down to ‘who has to approve’!
This same point came up with the Irish Academy of Engineering’s report in 2009:
“1.2.3 EastWest Interconnection (EWIC), In July 2006, the Irish Government decided to construct an interconnector from Ireland to Great Britain. It would appear that this decision was taken without the benefit of a robust techno‐economic study or cost benefit analysis.
In addition it is not clear that the main benefit, the “capacity savings”, amounting to some €40m annually out of a total annual benefit of €66m, would be attainable under current market rules, as the benefit would appear to imply 100% usage of the interconnector. The Academy understands for example that during 2008 the usage factor on the Moyle interconnector was approximately 14%. This would appear to indicate a much lower likely benefit from EWIC.”
Looks like Eirgrid are happy to dismiss these issues for their projects on the basis that the punters and decision makers (a shower of punters with our money) only read the crap in the Irish Independent, etc., which is a reproduction of what they feed the lazy journos in the first place.
God help us from all this stupidity and the appalling mess it leaves behind, as if we didn’t have A&Es and hospitals crying out for investment, etc.
On 20th Jan, as demand hit 93.8GW (Figure 2), France was dependent on over 4.5GW of imports (Figure 1). In previous years, France was a net exporter. At the same time in Ireland, wind was only at 30% of max output leaving nothing for export if an interconnector to France was in place. Most likely French grid operators were engaging in load shedding to prevent blackouts - see here for more details