EirGrid, which operates the national electricity grid on the island of Ireland, has reported higher revenues and pre-tax profits for last year.

EirGrid's revenues - which are mainly derived from regulated tariffs - rose by 7% to €737.4m, while its profit before tax amounted to €40.7m, up from €14m in 2020.

It said this was mainly due to exceptionally low wind conditions during the year which meant associated costs were significantly below the regulatory revenue allowance.

The company said that excluding the impact of over recoveries, estimates for the underlying operating profit for 2021 was €22.1m.

It said the related over-recovery will be returned to customers through a reduction in tariffs in future years.

EirGrid said it is proposing to pay a dividend of €4m to the Government for 2021, unchanged from last year.

Today's results show that significant progress was made on key infrastructure projects during the year, including the Kildare Meath Grid Upgrade and the North Connacht Project.

Meanwhile, the Celtic Interconnector was granted planning permission by An Bord Pleanála earlier this week. When constructed, the underwater link will allow the Irish grid to exchange power with the electricity system in France.

Pending approval of permissions and conditions, the interconnector is expected to be up and running by 2026.

Other important milestones during 2021 included the East West Interconnector successfully transitioning to post-Brexit energy market arrangements and its availability during the year was 98%.

EirGrid said a new system demand evening peak of 5,357MW in Ireland was recorded in December. New wind records of 3,591MW were recorded in February in Ireland, and on the island of Ireland of 4,489MW.

Brendan Tuohy, Chair of the EirGrid Group, said 2021 was a very important year for the group in the execution of its strategy, including defining the roadmap to 2030 through "Shaping Our Electricity Future" and the progression of critical infrastructure projects, such as the Celtic Interconnector.

"As the financial year closed, we approached the mid-point in the EirGrid Group Strategy, a strategy shaped by two factors - climate change and the required transformation of the electricity sector. I am pleased to report on the progress we have made in executing the strategy, in spite of the external challenges we have faced," he added.

EirGrid chief executive Mark Foley said the company acknowledges and supports the Government's revised target of 80% of electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

"In this regard work has already commenced on integrating this new target into a planned update to Shaping Our Electricity Future in 2023. We believe that the new target is deliverable and are committed to developing the optimum pathway to achieving this new ambition by 2030," Mr Foley said.

The EirGrid boss said that Ireland is on the cusp of the emergence of a new sector in offshore wind.

"A sector that will be a real powerhouse in helping deliver our 2030 targets, but also in the longer term has the potential to transform the island economy if the vast resources off the west coast can be harnessed in an efficient manner in the decades to come," he stated.