Planning & Consultation
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
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. The Cap and Floor Regime is an arrangement introduced by the GB regulator to promote the development, financing and construction of interconnection with other European countries where demonstrably beneficial to consumers. By establishing the Cap and Floor structure after a consultation process, Ofgem has encouraged private capital to promote projects and thereby bring innovation, efficiencies and a drive toward cost reduction for the benefit of consumers.
On 18 June 2021 Ofgem published the licence modifications which were required to implement the Cap and Floor regime provisions. Ofgem published its consultation on the Final Project Assessment (FPA) in March 2021, for which a decision is expected in September 2021.
In Ireland, Greenlink aims at mirroring the GB Cap and Floor regime in Ireland , insofar that law and regulation permits. This will:
facilitate a project financing structure and minimise financing costs which, in turn, will maximise value to consumers; and
align the operating incentives for Greenlink, minimising the potential for perverse operating outcomes.
Greenlink has actively engaged with the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) (formerly the CER) since 2014. On 23 March 2021, the CRU published its consultation in relation to the details of the Cap and Floor Regime that will apply in Ireland.
The consultation closed in May 2021 and a final decision from the CRU is expected in September/October 2021.
For our responses to regulatory announcements, please see our News archive.