An undersea electricity grid linking Ireland, Scotland and Northern Ireland is “viable and competitive” and should be built within the next decade, according to a new report.
The Irish-Scottish Links on Energy Study (Isles) was funded by the EU and found that development of an interconnected transmission network would drive further growth in the renewables sector.
The report concluded that a “cross-jurisdictional offshore integrated network is economically viable and competitive under certain regulatory frameworks and can potentially deliver a range of wider economic, environmental and market-related benefits”.
It states that the maximum resource potential is around 16.4 GW, with 12 GW coming from offshore wind and 2.3 GW from wave and tidal energy. The study adds that a target of 6.2 GW by is “ambitious but achievable”.
Representatives from the three administrations yesterday talked up the economic benefits of such a network at the launch of the report.
Ireland’s energy minister Pat Rabbitte said it showed that the three countries “have the potential to reduce infrastructure costs by working together to develop a planned network design”. His Northern Ireland counterpart Arlene Foster said the study presented “a realistic picture of an energy future” featuring wind, wave and tidal energy, but conceded that “this will not happen quickly or easily”.
“The Isles study presents significant challenges to government and potential investors,” she said. “Across each of our countries there are barriers to regional integration of energy trading systems. Government needs to work with the energy sector to make the investment environment more attractive but without imposing undue costs on the end customer.”
Scotland’s finance secretary John Swinney said that the “low carbon economy could re-industrialise Scotland and the transmission network is an enormous part of that”.