Ireland 'won't be covered in new pylons' under €1bn grid upgrade, Eirgrid says

Eirgrid says pylons will be a 'last resort' when upgrading the electricity grid in the coming years.
Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

10.26 10 Nov 2021

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Ireland 'won't be covered in n...

Ireland 'won't be covered in new pylons' under €1bn grid upgrade, Eirgrid says

Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

10.26 10 Nov 2021

Share this article

The Eirgrid CEO says some new pylons will be needed to upgrade the electricity grid, but only as a "last resort".

The company says alternatives will be used wherever possible, so people won't see the country covered in new pylons.

The company has today announced a €1 billion spend on 40 additional power infrastructure projects.


Eirgrid says it's aiming to "radically transform" the grid as part of efforts to ensure the vast majority of Ireland's electricity comes from renewable sources by 2030.

This will involve the upgrading of existing power lines and some underground projects.

Speaking on The Pat Kenny Show, Eirgrid CEO Mark Foley says they have four main approaches to upgrading the grid.

He explained: “We can upgrade existing lines - that shouldn’t be offensive, [as it's a case of] taking down the wires and putting up wires with greater capacity. We’re also going to put technology on wires that make them more efficient.

"We have already this year made two decisions around undergrounding new projects.

“The point of last resort is we may have to put in pylons and new wires."

Mr Foley said the toolbox available to them is "more sophisticated" than it was even ten years ago, so people are "not going to see the country covered in new pylons".

He said: "You will see pylons in certain locations and new wires… but generally speaking we’ll be able to bring this mix to bear and deliver solutions that I think people will find less offensive.”

He noted that pylons are generally put in place to deal with technical challenges rather than an effort to reduce costs.

Grid upgrades

Under the new plan, Eirgrid says it hopes to use a "broader mix" of technology to meet Ireland's electricity needs.

There's a big focus on offshore wind, with Mr Foley saying that'll bring "very, very good price points and big capacity".

Some solar power will also be used, as well as onshore wind farms - but new onshore facilities won't be as much of a focus as they were in the past.

Mr Foley said they've also heard "very loudly" that consumers want to be active in generating and supplying electricity, so there's provision made for microgeneration.

He said: “In overall volume terms, it’s modest - but I think it’s really important that consumers are involved.”

There's been some recent debate about whether nuclear power will be necessary to meet Ireland's electricity needs.

However, that prospect has been ruled out by Eirgrid.

Mr Foley observed: “The problem with nuclear, frankly, is the lead time to get a plant built - my understanding is it’s ten to fifteen years. We’ll have missed a boat.

“The plan we have in play leverages proven technology with gas as a backup. We can get the job done by 2030 - you wouldn’t get a nuclear plant in place by then.”

Mr Foley said he's also confident Ireland can avoid blackouts this winter, despite concerns raised in recent months about the possibility.

He said: "We have a challenging winter, but the two plants that went offline… one is back, and the other one is due back next week. We’re in a much better position than we would have been during the summer.

“We do face risk, but I think we’re on top of it.”

Main image: File photo. Photo: Eamonn Farrell/

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