Kells Cluster

The Kells Cluster Project will, among other benefits, enhance security of supply for electricity consumers in Northern Ireland.

Read the Brochure

At SONI we work to deliver a safe, secure, economic and reliable electricity network. This can mean the need to invest in and improve the transmission grid – essential to make your electricity supply more cost effective and reliable. It also supports economic growth and enables competition. We also need to develop the grid so it can connect to new sources of renewable energy, in order to meet our climate change targets of at least 80% renewable generation by 2030. The Kells Cluster Project is key to achieving this ambition.

The project has now received planning permission and will be handed over to NIE Networks to proceed with construction.

The project

SONI is obliged to connect parties who request a connection to the electricity network, subject to the applicant meeting certain conditions. When it comes to connecting sources of renewable power to the transmission grid, SONI is responsible for elements such as technical design, site selection and achieving planning consent for the new connection. These happen before a project moves into the construction phase. NIE Networks is then responsible for building and maintaining the infrastructure.

In some locations, and to some observers, electricity infrastructure has a visual impact on the landscape. We aim to create as little disturbance as possible. It was for this reason that a cluster connection policy was developed by NIE Networks and, following consultation, approved by the Utility Regulator for Northern Ireland to connect sources of renewable power in close proximity.

There are already a number of renewable power projects in the Greater Ballymena/ Antrim area that have planning permission. This has resulted in the need for the Kells Cluster Project which  will create a cluster substation, providing generation projects with a connection to the grid.

SONI’s planning application for the Kells Cluster Project was approved by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council in June 2022.

SONI would like to place on record our thanks for all stakeholders who engaged with us and provided feedback during our consultation process. This project will now be handed over to NIE Networks to proceed with construction.

The new development will include a switchroom building, 2 new 110/33 kV transformers and a short section of underground cable, all located within the existing boundary of the Kells Main Substation.

This will allow the renewable generation developments to connect to the distribution system allowing the energy generated to be carried on the network and transferred to where it is needed.

Where is the project and what does it involve?

SONI has been granted planning permission to construct and install the following:

  • A 33kV switchroom building.
  • 2 x 110/33 kV transformers within the grounds of the existing Kells Grid Substation.
  • Approx. 200 metres of underground cable connecting the new substation to the existing transmission network – this will be within the confines of the current substation site.

The address is Kells Grid Substation, Maxwells Rd, Ballymena, BT42 3NU.

What are the benefits of this project?

The Kells Cluster Project will bring benefits, including: 

  • Help in facilitating Northern Ireland’s transition to a low carbon energy future;
  • Enhance security of supply for electricity consumers in Northern Ireland;
  • Strengthening of the local transmission network in the region.