SONI is the electricity transmission system operator for Northern Ireland. This means we plan for the future of the electricity grid and operate it every minute of every day. We ensure that everyone has power when they need it at the most economical price possible.
To prepare for a clean energy future, SONI must make the electricity grid stronger and more flexible. The grid will need to carry more power, and most of this power will come from renewable generation that varies depending on the weather.
The project will:
To date approximately 1600 MW of renewable generation in Northern Ireland (including small scale generation) has been connected. Most of this is in the form of wind generation located in the North and West, while most demand for electricity is in the urban centres of the East.
The Mid Antrim Upgrade will reduce bottlenecks on the grid, expected to save consumers an estimated £9 million per year by 2030. The system between Kells and Rasharkin has become a point of congestion due to the level of generation in the North that passes towards the East. This means we cannot readily transfer all the clean energy that is available leading to cost implications for consumers.
The Mid Antrim Upgrade will help to improve the efficiency of the electricity system, ensuring a more efficient and secure electricity supply on a sustainable basis.
We project that Northern Ireland will need at least double the amount electricity from clean sources, in order to meet our climate targets for 2030. This power will have to be generated, connected to the grid, and delivered throughout Northern Ireland.
The Mid Antrim Upgrade is a high-capacity transmission system upgrade between the Kells and Rasharkin Main substations in County Antrim.
To accommodate the increasing renewable energy generated in the North and West and to get it to the East where it is needed, we must make the grid in the Mid-Antrim area stronger and more resilient.
The Mid Antrim Upgrade will deliver:
SONI have engaged with several key stakeholder groups, such as local councils and elected representatives to aid SONI in understanding what matters to communities, landowners, and businesses in the Mid Antrim area.
Public participation charity Involve were appointed by SONI to facilitate a two-part engagement process consisting of a Community Forum and a Citizen Sounding Board. This process enabled as diverse a group as possible to learn more about the upgrade and route options and provided feedback that SONI can use when developing the preferred option for the upgrade.
The Community Forum, which met several times, provided an opportunity for community representatives to come together to build their understanding of the proposed route options and substation locations. The Community Forum reflected the views of their organisation and/or community and provided information and insights that SONI may need to consider during project delivery.
The Citizen Sounding Board brought together a randomly selected group of people who live within the proposed area of the new overhead line and broadly represent the entire community. Members of the Citizen Sounding Board, which also met several times, had the opportunity to learn about issues, discuss them with one another, and then make recommendations about what should happen and how things should change.