The huge potential benefits of a new electricity grid under the Irish Sea connecting power sources on Scottish, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland electricity networks have been highlighted in an exhaustive study. The Irish-Scottish Links on Energy Study (ISLES) study, funded by the EU’s INTERREG IVA Programme, has found that development of an interconnected transmission network within the decade would help drive further growth in the renewables sector, create jobs, generate revenues and ensure future sustainable energy supplies by better connecting and exporting electricity.
“With a sea area that is almost ten times the size of our landmass, Ireland has an abundance of ocean renewable energy resources, potentially a multiple of the energy requirements of our own system,” comments Pat Rabbitte TD, Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. “By co-operating with our neighbouring administrations, we can work together to create a viable market for these resources, initially across our own islands but in time to continental Europe. The study shows that we have the long term potential to reduce infrastructure costs by working together to develop a planned network design.”
Funded by the EU’s INTERREG IVA Programme, the ISLES project was a two-year collaboration between the Scottish Government, the Northern Ireland Executive and the Government of Ireland. The ISLES report contains crucial data and hard evidence to help understand the financial, regulatory and technical challenges of building an offshore interconnected transmission network and subsea electricity grid to support generation of electricity from renewable sources in coastal waters off Western Scotland and in the North Channel/Irish Sea area.
Scottish Finance Secretary John Swinney says: “This ground-breaking study highlights the opportunities and the challenges in realising our shared renewables potential. It underlines the commitment of our three governments to work together to harness the huge potential of renewable energy. It is further proof, if any were needed, of the enormous economic opportunities renewable energy provides. The low carbon economy could re-industrialise Scotland and the transmission network is an enormous part of that.”
Pictured at the launch of ISLES study (from left to right): PJ Rudden, director of RPS, and Pat Rabbitte TD, Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.