In a unique get together, Ireland’s Energy Minister Pat Rabbitte will be in London tomorrow to meet with the UK’s Energy Minister Charles Hendry, MP. The two ministers will be discussing a potential inter-governmental agreement between the two countries around the trading of electricity, particularly electricity that is generated from renewables.
Back in May, Rabbitte stated his plans to meet with Hendry and discuss negotiations on an intergovernmental agreement so the two countries can start to trade surplus renewables.
At the time, he said such an energy agreement with the UK would mean that those involved in the generation of both onshore and offshore renewable energy in Ireland would have an additional market to serve.
Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s London meeting, Rabbitte said this evening that Ireland has renewable energy resources that are greater than the country’s own needs.
Today, the Irish energy infrastructure company Eirgrid held its first capacity auction for companies to bid to trade energy when the East West Interconnector, the underground and undersea link connecting Ireland and the UK, is completed later this year.
With the East West Interconnector, the aim is to open new markets to energy companies and to provide increased opportunities to trade electricity between the Irish Single Electricity Market and the British Electricity Trading and Transmission Arrangements market.
This evening, Rabbitte said that as Ireland moves away from its island-based energy system to a more interconnected and integrated single European energy market, the country now has a real opportunity to develop its natural resources to become a renewable electricity exporter of scale.
“Increased interconnection to the UK offers us the opportunity to access a much larger market in future. In the short term there are opportunities for onshore wind and biomass development but, as technologies develop and become more commercially deployable, in time we will also see offshore wind, wave and tidal developments,” he said.
Rabbitte also said there would be the potential for the creation of construction jobs.
“If we can develop projects at sufficient scale, there is also the opportunity to see increased job potential not just during the construction phases but in component manufacturing and in the operations and maintenance area.
He said he and Ireland’s Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, TD, are both committed to delivering on this potential, by creating the framework and conditions for a bilateral and, eventually, multilateral trade in renewable energy. This would be providing that Ireland’s interests are secured, he said.
“Our work is now intensifying. Tomorrow I am meeting again with Energy Minister Charles Hendry to progress our shared objective of achieving an inter-governmental agreement to underpin the export of renewable energy.”
Then, on Friday, Rabbitte will be travelling to Stirling, Scotland, with Kenny to meet the British Irish Council.