Plug pulled on €6bn energy project

Mainstream Renewable Power is understood to have fully pulled the plug on its €6b energy bridge project aimed at exporting 5,000 megawatts of power to Britain and generating nearly €3bn in annual export revenue.

While the Government’s ambitious €15bn plan to export wind-generated energy to the UK — from 1,000 new wind turbines across the midland counties — has been put on hold, Mainstream seems to be the only one of the three individual project participants to have fully walked away.

It is understood that Mainstream has opted to return 2.7 gigawatts of connection offers secured with the UK’s National Grid for the project, something which has suggested to the industry that Mainstream will not now be involved in the project should it be resurrected. No company representative could be reached to comment on the matter.

While a memorandum of understanding between the Irish and British governments was signed early last year, a formal inter-governmental agreement green-lighting renewable energy trade has not been reached and won’t be in time for the proposed project to get under way by 2017.

The energy policy debate, in Britain, has shifted, with the Conservative party seemingly favouring nuclear power and fracking to wind.

But the Irish Government still sees real potential for a long-term energy export market to Britain. This, effectively, means that the midlands project remains on the backburner and is not officially dead.

The other main participants seem to be taking a ‘wait and see’ approach. Element Power — which is looking to establish a 5,000 megawatt capacity link (via two undersea cables) to the UK, via its ‘Greenwire’ project — is maintaining its grid connection offers with Britain.

Bord na Mona — which doesn’t have connection rights in place with the National Grid in the UK — has said that it will continue to perfect land for the eventual development of renewable energy projects.

In all, the initial plan was set to see the three projects erect 40 windfarms across Kildare, Meath, Offaly, Westmeath and Laois and connect the energy via underwater cable to Britain. Element’s plan is/was to provide enough energy for 2.5 million homes, while Mainstream had signed contracts with 300 private landowners here and was looking to provide enough power for over four million homes in the UK.

Source: Irish Examiner