Ireland and Scotland unite in green energy plan
The Irish and Scottish governments and the Northern Ireland executive are co-operating on a plan for a wind electricity grid linking all three jurisdictions. Energy ministers recently launched the plan to make the case for an offshore wind-power grid operated by all three administrations.
“This is the first step on the road towards building a shared wind-power grid between western Scotland, Ireland and the North,” one Irish official said. “That will enable us to link into a Europe-wide supergrid for wind energy at a later date, which would make renewable energy a more reliable, flexible resource.”
Eamon Ryan, the energy minister, and his Scottish counterpart Jim Mather will launch the feasibility study in Edinburgh. “Interconnection is the way forward,” said Ryan.
Officials say the resources in coastal areas off the three jurisdictions are significant. Around Scotland, the potential for renewable energy is estimated to amount to several times the current peak demand. Critics of wind power say it is an unreliable source of energy . But Eddie O’Connor, the Airtricity founder, counters that the solution is to build a wind energy supergrid extending across the land mass of Europe.
The study is being funded under the EU Interreg programme, a Euro 7.8 billion fund designed to stimulate co-operation among European countries and neighbouring regions. “The study will quantify the long-term strategic benefits that could arise from the development of an offshore marine electricity grid to accommodate renewables around the west coast of Scotland, the north and east coasts of Northern Ireland, the Irish Sea and the west coast of Ireland,” one official said.
Offshore grid connections would facilitate increased generation from renewable energy sources, which would contribute to renewable-energy and carbon-reduction targets, as well as contributing to the economic development of peri-pheral coastal areas.