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Swedish Firm ABB to Link Irish Grid to UK

Mar 30, 2009 - Irish Times

The national electricity grid's operator has given the contract for a [euro]600 million power line linking Ireland and Britain to Swedish company ABB.

Eirgrid, which manages the national system for transmitting and distributing electricity, is investing [euro]600 million in an interconnector that will run between the east coast and Wales. The EU is contributing [euro]110 million.

Yesterday, the agency said that it has awarded the contract to design, manufacture and instal the cable to ABB Systems, one of five players who competed for the deal last year.

ABB manufactures cables, switches and most equipment needed by electricity transmission systems. It also designs and builds the systems themselves.

Last year it had revenues of [euro]34.9 billion and net income of [euro]3.1 billion. The company has its roots in both Switzerland and Sweden and has been doing business since the mid-19th century.

The project attracted bids from leading European players, the German giant Siemens, French groups Nexan and Areva, and Italian operator Prysmian.

The interconnector will link Deeside in north Wales and Woodland in Co Meath, where Eirgrid operates a substation. It will come ashore close to Rush, Co Dublin. Construction will create about 100 jobs.

It will allow power to flow both ways so electricity can be imported from Britain and exported there. It will have the capacity to carry 500 megawatts of electricity, equivalent to a medium-sized generating station, and is due for completion in 2012.

Commenting on the news yesterday, ABB's head of power systems, Peter Leupp, said that the company's "technology will enhance the stability of both the Irish and UK transmission grids, and also expand capacity for the use of renewable power".

Eirgrid chief executive Dermot Byrne said that the interconnector is vital for Ireland.

"It will help to ensure that Ireland has enough electricity to meet our needs into the future in a sustainable manner. Importantly, the interconnector will also support the energy sector in adapting to meet the challenges posed by climate change and fuel security," he added.

Minister for Energy Eamon Ryan said that the competition which the interconnector will bring and "the increased support for renewables will reduce our electricity bills in the long term".

Originally published by BARRY O'HALLORAN.

(c) 2009 Irish Times. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.