The East–West Interconnector is a high-voltage direct current submarine and subsoil power cable project, currently under construction, for connecting the UK and Irishelectricity markets. The project is being developed by the Irish national grid operator EirGrid.
The interconnection is aimed to increase competition and security of supply, and better use the capacity of wind energy. The additional capacity headroom provided by the interconnection will assist in reducing the Electricity Supply Board's dominant position in the Irish electricity market. By joining the two markets it will allow Irish suppliers to access power in the UK and for UK based suppliers to enter the Irish market without initially having to commit to large capital expenditure, significantly reducing barriers to entry. Irish renewable generators will benefit from the interconnection as it will increase their available market and may make it more economically attractive to construct more large scale renewable generation.
ESB Power Generation has advised of its intention to withdraw approximately 1,300 MW of capacity over the next five years. This will effectively reduce the installed capacity of fully dispatchable plant from 6,437 MW to 5,150 MW by the end of 2010. This closure of older inefficient power plants coupled with high growth forecasts present a major threat to security of Irish energy supply.