Three companies are pushing ahead with a plan to export wind energy from Ireland to the UK from 2017.
A memorandum of understanding has been signed to complete a pre-feasibility study for the development, financing, construction and operation of the 5000 MW transmission system.
The project is led by developer Mainstream Renewable Power in conjunction with UK network owner National Grid and Redes Energéticas Nacionais (REN), Portugal’s transmission operator.
The project will revolve around Energy Bridge, is a private underground network launched by Mainstream Renewable Power in June to transport electricity from onshore and offshore wind farms in Ireland to the UK.
It will take the power under the Irish seabed and into the UK and will be entirely independent of Ireland’s existing electricity network. Mainstream says it has already secured an offer for 5 000 MW of grid connection to the UK. Phase 1 of the project will focus on delivering the first 1200 MW from onshore wind farms by 2017.
Mainstream’s chief executive Eddie O’Connor said the project had “never been done anywhere in the world”.
He said the signing of the MoU was “a major milestone in our plan to start delivering renewable energy to the UK from 2017″.
“We are now putting a team of experts together in order to conduct comprehensive feasibility studies and a business plan. This will be the precursor to the companies forming a joint venture to develop, build, finance, own and operate the system. Mainstream is very excited to be leading such a ground breaking project.”
National Grid chief executive Steve Holliday said the project “has the makings of a really exciting project that can connect consumers and businesses to lots of renewable energy” while his REN counterpart Rui Cartaxo added: “REN believes this MoU sets the ground for the study of a potentially groundbreaking infrastructure for the future of European energy highways.”