The EU will invest in two energy projects designed to reduce Irish energy dependence on the U.K., Reuters reports.
EU investment will focus on linking the Irish electricity grid (EirGrid) to France as well as the development of an LNG import terminal. A gas-fired power plant and gas installations are also under consideration.
The so-called Celtic interconnector will link Brittany in France to the southern Irish coast by 2025. The Shannon LNG terminal will allow Ireland to import up to 28,3 million cubic meters a day, taking advantage of a glut in US natural gas supply.
The two projects will be financed by the European Investment Bank (EIB) and are estimated to cost €2bn.
Decoupling Ireland from the U.K
The objective shared in Dublin and Brussels is reducing the leverage of the U.K on Irish energy security. For the moment, the island is united under a Single Electricity Market system binding to both Westminster and Dublin.
London is likely to try to maximize the benefits of being outside the EU by promoting its nuclear industry by introducing certain pricing concessions to foreign investors that would be prohibited by EU state aid rules.
In that negotiation, Ireland may be held hostage. If the EU was to impose energy tariffs on the UK, it may well be the case that Irish consumers end up paying the additional cost. In this standoff, Ireland may ask for a rebate of the cost for the Irish consumer, but that solution would be costly.
Currently, Ireland depends on the U.K for 60% of its energy supply. Reducing that dependency will allow the EU a tougher stance in forthcoming Brexit negotiations. On the contrary, plans to join the Irish and Northern Irish electricity grids are now called into question.