Assembly Question 6916/17-22

Question: To ask the Minister for the Economy, following planning approval being granted for the North South Electricity Interconnector, to detail the benefits of a more interconnected Single Electricity Market for (i) the Northern Ireland consumer; and (ii) reducing the carbon footprint of energy use and generation in Northern Ireland.

Answer: The System Operator for Northern Ireland (SONI) has provided the background information for this answer.

The North South Interconnector will be a critical piece of electricity infrastructure that will benefit the Northern Ireland consumer by unlocking a green economic recovery as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic. It will ensure that local businesses have the power they need to expand and attract foreign investment and, once completed, will facilitate significant new job growth within the emerging green collar sector by supporting the growth of renewables. Based on recent analysis carried out by SONI it is expected to create initial savings to consumers of £20m per year. It is further estimated that there will be savings of up to £40m per year by 2030 as it removes constraints, or bottlenecks, on the grid. A more connected grid will mean a more efficient wholesale market resulting in downward pressure on prices, which is good news for consumers and businesses in both jurisdictions.

The North South Interconnector is expected to facilitate the connection of an additional 900MW of renewable generation; enough to power 600,000 homes. It will reduce reliance on imported fossil fuels and maximise the use of Northern Ireland’s abundant, clean, natural resources, such as wind and solar energy. It will help Northern Ireland to meet the expected increase in electricity demand, resulting from the uptake of electric vehicles and heat from electricity, by relieving the current constraints on the island’s electricity system. It will be the backbone of the transmission system and will be critical to Northern Ireland’s ability to deliver its contribution to the UK commitment to Net Zero Carbon by 2050.

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