Short-term project has a ‘50/50 chance’ of success, says MEL

One of Moyle Interconnector's underwater electrical cables being deployed from a cable laying vessel.  INLT 37-677-CON
One of Moyle Interconnector's underwater electrical cables being deployed from a cable laying vessel. INLT 37-677-CON

The damaged Moyle Interconnector could be back to full capacity next month if upcoming repair work is successful, the Times has learned.

Mutual Energy Ltd, the company which owns and operates the service, is forging ahead with plans to lay replacement low voltage cables between Ayrshire and Islandmagee.

These new cables would provide a long-term solution to the ongoing fault and could be operational by 2016/17, subject to a marine licence being granted by the Department of the Environment.

However, MEL is keen to bring Moyle back to full capacity as soon as possible, and is now taking steps to repair the faulty cable as a short-term measure.

Stephen Hemphill, MEL group operations manager said: “On a typical day, Moyle can provide up to a quarter of Northern Ireland’s electricity demand, so the fact that it is operating at half supply is a serious loss in terms of security of supply.

“Our short-term goal is to repair the faulty cable, bringing the service back to full capacity until the replacement cables can eventually be installed.”

Mr Hemphill revealed: “We intend to use a stainless steel habitat to surround the faulty section of the cable, allowing divers access to carry out the necessary repairs.

“There is about a 50/50 chance that the repairs will be successful in bringing the service back to up to 500MW.

“We hope to carry out the repairs in October, dependant on weather.

“If that is not possible, we will have to wait until next spring.”