The UK and Ireland today pledged to work together to secure economic benefits for both countries through renewable energy trading.
A memorandum of understanding was signed by UK Energy Secretary Ed Davey and his Irish counterpart Pat Rabbitte in Dublin. The two countries have agreed to investigate ways to achieve more cost efficient uses of resources, drive down deployment costs and reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
It is hoped that through the MoU, an inter-governmental agreement could be signed in 2014 in time for potential projects to start exporting wind energy from Ireland to Britain by 2020.
Rabbitte said today that Ireland has “the potential to generate far more wind energy than we could consume domestically. The opportunity to export this green power presents an opportunity for employment growth and export earnings which we must seize if we can.”
He added: “We will tease out the very complex engineering and market issues so that in a year’s time, we will be in a position to make an inter-governmental agreement providing a formal basis for energy trading.”
Davey said that trading power with Ireland “could increase the amount of green power in our energy mix and potentially bring down costs for UK consumers”.
Trade organisation RenewableUK hailed the signing of the agreement as “the start of an ambitious project which could bring enormous economic and environmental gains for both countries”.
Its deputy chief executive Maf Smith said: “Major initiatives like this create significant opportunities for British companies to help build infrastructure, for example manufacturing and laying undersea cables.
“Connecting supplies between countries also gives us the opportunity to feed more electricity from renewable sources into the grid at any one time, so that we can cut down on the amount of expensive old-school fossil fuels we have to import.”
He added that he hoped interconnectors between countries would eventually be developed across Europe. “We can’t control the international price of gas, but we know exactly how cost-effective wind energy is, so it’s in everyone’s interest to ensure this goes ahead as part of moves to put in place interconnection across the continent.”