Potential export opportunity from Irish–Scottish offshore renewable energy grid – Report finds

Friday, 14th September 2012:      The Irish-Scottish Links on Energy Study (ISLES) Full Report on an Irish-Scottish offshore renewable energy grid, launched today (Friday 14th September) by MrPat Rabbitte, T.D., Minister for Energy, Communications and Natural Resources, concludes that a cross-jurisdictional offshore integrated network is economically viable and competitive and can potentially deliver a range of wider economic, environmental and market related benefits to both Ireland and the UK.

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. This cross-border partnership based approach reflects the key goals of the INTERREG IVA Programme which has been designed to encourage greater levels of co-operation between all three regions. The detailed study was carried out over the past two years by an international team headed by RPS Consultants Dublin along with threeUKenergy companies – TNEI, PPA Energy and IHC.

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 offWestern Scotlandand in the North Channel/Irish Sea area. Developing renewable energy trade represents a considerable potential export opportunity forIreland

At the launch, Minister Rabbitte said:

“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.”

“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.”

The next steps are forIrelandto produce offshore legislation that will dovetail with legislation in our neighbouring jurisdictions so we can start to put the network in place by 2020.  The timeframe is achievable, if very aggressive, given the planning, financing and construction challenges that have to be overcome.

“The ISLES Report is an excellent example of joined up thinking by the three Governments involved and it concludes that an Irish -Scottish offshore renewable energy grid is not only feasible, it could be a reality by 2020”, says P.J. Rudden, Project Director at RPS, one of the consortium of international consultants who undertook the ISLES study.  “The Report shows thatIrelandandScotlandhave the potential to reduce infrastructure costs by working together to develop a planned network design. The development of an interconnected transmission network could potentially provide a significant export opportunity forIreland. It would also greatly expand the renewables sector, create jobs and in the longer term, generate revenues by exporting electricity toEurope.”

The 12 volumes of the Full Report on ISLES are available at www.islesproject.eu.

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