The chair of the Manx Utilities Authority has given a potential date of 2028 for a new interconnector between the island and Great Britain for the supply of electricity.

Tim Crookall told the House of Keys this week that this will be ‘challenging’.

The island’s electricity comes from an AC power interconnector marine cable.

Mr Crookal said: ‘Manx Utilities has not yet received any formal timetables but verbal indications are that up to 100 megawatts of imports to the Isle of Man would be possible by 2028 but exporting that full capacity would not be possible until 2037.’

It was in response to a question from Douglas North MHK David Ashford, who asked what communications the authority has had with National Grid and the UK Distribution Network Operating Companies in relation to the installation of a new interconnector.

Mr Crookall said: ‘Manx Utilities have and remain in active and ongoing communications with distribution network operators in Great Britain regarding the installation of a second distribution interconnector.

‘Several bulk electricity supply points owned and operated by Electricity North West Limited and located on the west coast of England are currently being assessed by the distribution network operator in conjunction with National Grid and their suitability to accommodate a second connection between England and the Isle of Man’s power system.

‘The distribution network operator has indicated that the connection review by National Grid is likely to identify constraints relating to the direction that electrical energy can flow through the interconnector.

‘This will mean that the full import capability of the new interconnector will be able to supply demand on the Isle of Man from the moment of commissioning but export capability, ie power flowing to Great Britain, will be constrained until further GB grid strengthening is achieved.’

He added: ‘Manx Utilities is continuing with its feasibility work as it identifies a second interconnector as a strategic asset in decarbonising the Isle of Man’s power system.

‘In the fullness of time formal investment case must be brought to this honourable court for approval.’

Mr Ashford had concerns about this, noting that ‘verbal assurances aren’t worth the paper they’re not written on’.

When looking at National Grid’s data, across England and Wales there’s currently 289 organisations outstanding a connection, 45 with dates between 2027 and 2029, 125 with dates between 2030 and 2032, seven with dates between 2033 and 2035, and 48 with dates of 2036 or later.

He added that if looking specifically at the north west and North Wales, as of last month, there were 55 outstanding connections, zero with dates prior to 2030, eight with dates given of 2030 to 2032, and 47 with dates of 2033 to 2035.

The MHK asked how confident the chair is that the 2028 date will go ahead, to which Mr Crookall said: ‘A verbal assurance is just chat until something is signed with a legal contract.

‘It’s very difficult to be able to say exactly if that’s going to be doable by 2028, considering the design and connection point to the west coast of England, MU consider the target completion date for a second interconnector to be operational by 2030 as very challenging but potentially achievable with the information obtained to date.

‘Things are changing rapidly and until you get in that queue for your piece of cable and to join up we won’t know when exactly that is going to be.’

The minister said the ‘most significant risk’ to the project’s time scales lie with the supply chain for specialist cable, component manufacturing, and offshore resources associated with the renewable offshore industry.

‘We will absolutely keep updating members as and when we can when things change,’ Mr Crookall added, but couldn’t say when written assurance can be given.

He added that the MUA would be giving a ‘detailed briefing’ to members in ‘about two to three weeks’ time’.