Ireland and France sign energy agreement on scaling up renewables and electricity flows

Move predicted to lead to reduced electricity prices and provide flexibility that will improve energy security

An agreement between Ireland and France will scale up collaboration on renewable energy and enhance use of power interconnectors linking the two countries – with a prospect of cheaper electricity prices, according to Minister for Energy Eamon Ryan.

The joint declaration of intent on “energy transition co-operation” signed in Dublin on Monday, will enhance Ireland’s energy security and facilitate exporting of renewable energy to Europe, such as at times of high wind volumes and bring power from France when this source is at low levels, he confirmed.

The declaration also provides a framework to accelerate work on decarbonising respective energy systems, said his counterpart Agnès Pannier-Runacher. This would stabilise prices and increase capacity to deliver electricity, while supporting Europe’s ambition to become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050, she said.

Building on existing commitments adopted in 2021, it signals greater co-operation on onshore wind and solar development and a commitment to accelerate deployment of offshore renewables and energy systems, she said.


“What we have set out in this declaration makes clear that both Ireland and France will be central to wider European energy plans ... It signals where Europe needs to go,” Mr Ryan said.

The agreement on energy was part of a visit to Ireland by French ministers and parliamentarians.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar met French prime minister Élisabeth Borne in Government Buildings on Monday afternoon.

Afterwards Mr Varadkar said: “Ireland and France are old friends and allies with links that stretch back through history.”

He said they discussed “shared EU challenges” including the need to improve its competitiveness and resilience and “accelerate green and digital transitions”.

Mr Varadkar also said they “reiterated our shared and unwavering support for Ukraine and its people as they face into a second winter of this terrible war” and they discussed the “deepening humanitarian crisis in Gaza”.

The pair later addressed a conference on the 225th anniversary of the 1798 Rebellion which France supported with troops.

At the press conference Ms Borne said the events of 1798, also known in Ireland as the “Year of the French”, was “a founding brick in the building of the Irish republic.”

She said: “Democracy, liberty, rule-of-law, these are the ideas that have shaped the friendship between France and Ireland.

“Our two people’s share these values and we will continue to defend them together, in particular within the European Union and also on the international stage.”

Regarding the energy deal, Ms Pannier-Runacher said it would lead to better anticipation on what needs to be built including onshore facilities and port services and would also reinforce North Sea co-operation on energy generation and transmission, while building out a supply chain for green or low carbon hydrogen.

The French energy minister said a critical element was to reduce fossil fuels as this was necessary to being credible on committing to net zero emissions by 2050.

“This visit will enable us to prepare our future work together: this involves in particular our preparation of Cop28, but also our joint co-chairing of the International Energy Agency ministerial in February 2024,” she said.

Mr Ryan and Ms Pannier-Runacher also marked commencement of construction of the Celtic Interconnector project at the Dublin offices of EirGrid. The high-voltage subsea power cable will link the electricity grids of Ireland and France with enough capacity to power 450,000 homes, in addition to providing a direct electricity link from Ireland to the EU. It is due to begin testing in 2026 and come into operation in 2027.

EirGrid, the state-owned transmission system operator, is working with its French equivalent, Réseau de Transport d’Electricité, to deliver the 700-megawatt submarine cable, with connection points between the southern coast of Ireland and northwest coast of France.

“Increased electricity interconnection will be a key enabler in our growing use of renewable energy will also help lower energy prices and play a central role in Ireland’s journey to a net zero power system,” he added.

This will better integrate European electricity markets, Mr Ryan said. “By using more diversified energy markets, this will improve our electricity security and resilience.” He hopes a second interconnector to France would be built in due course, with others linked to Spain and Belgium.

Interconnectors provide a way to share electricity between countries and will increase in importance as the renewable energy sector becomes a larger proportion of supply in the Irish and European electricity system.

The Celtic Interconnector is part of the EU Offshore Network Development Plan, intended to develop an integrated energy system for European energy markets. The European Commission is contributing €531 million to help complete the design and delivery of the project.

Speaking at Government Buildings, Ms Pannier-Runacher thanked teams at ESB Networks, who went to France recently to help repair its power supply system following storm Ciarán, which, she said, caused “awful damage” and left 1 million homes and businesses without power.

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan is Environment and Science Editor and former editor of The Irish Times

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times