National government policy:
In July 2018, following a consultation, the Irish Government published its National Policy Statement on Electricity Interconnection, a step welcomed by Greenlink as a major boost to investment. The policy from the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE) recognised the benefits of interconnection to Irish energy security, competitiveness and sustainability - the three pillars of Irish energy policy - including benefits to consumers of “lower long term cost of electricity.”
In June 2019, the Irish Government published its Climate Action Plan 2019[A1] , which includes a call for greater electricity interconnection for Ireland “critical to absorbing high levels of renewable generation on to the system.” The Government noted that further interconnection to the UK is planned and made a commitment to “strengthening the policy framework to incentivise it”. We welcomed the announcement here.
In December 2020, the UK government published its Energy White Paper ‘Powering our Net Zero Future’ which supported growth in interconnection: “We will work with Ofgem, developers and our European partners to realise at least 18GW of interconnector capacity by 2030. This represents a three-fold increase from current levels and will position us as a potential net exporter of excess green energy, helping to keep wind turbines generating even when GB electricity demand has been met.”
Alongside, the White Paper, BEIS published a report into the impact of interconnectors on decarbonisation, which showed that a higher level of interconnector capacity “could decrease cumulative emissions in Great Britain by up to 199 MtCO2e by 2050, as well as reducing total system costs”.
Regulatory approval: UK and Ireland
The Cap and Floor Regime is an arrangement introduced by the GB and Irish regulators to promote the development, financing and construction of electricity interconnectors where demonstrably beneficial to consumers.
In the UK, Greenlink was granted a Cap and Floor Regime by Ofgem in September 2015 and Ofgem made its final decision in relation to the Cap and Floor variations that will apply to project financed interconnectors in May 2020.
On 18 June 2021 Ofgem published the licence modifications which were required to implement the Cap and Floor regime provisions.
On 17 September 2021, Ofgem published a handbook which explains what Ofgem’s cap and floor regime for electricity interconnectors is and where to find the main regime policy information. The handbook also provides up-to-date information on Ofgem’s implementation of, and changes to, the regime policy and design and provide key information on Certification, Access Rules and Charging Methodologies that apply to electricity interconnectors.
Ofgem published its final decision on the Final Project Assessment (FPA) of the Greenlink interconnector in October 2021.
The regulatory regime in Ireland largely mirrors the GB Cap and Floor regime in Ireland , insofar that law and regulation permits.
Greenlink submitted an interconnector application in Ireland in December 2017.
In October 2018, the CRU determined that the construction of the Greenlink interconnector was in the public interest.
In December 2020, the CRU published its decision paper that accepted that a Cap and Floor regulatory regime would be the most appropriate for Greenlink.
In September 2021, CRU published its decision regarding the Cap and Floor regulatory framework for Greenlink.
The CRU issued Greenlink’s Electricity Interconnector Operator Licence on 17 February 2022.
For our responses to regulatory announcements, please see our News archive.