UK and Ireland eye subsea links to boost green-power sharing  

Posted by Big Gav in , , ,

Recharge has a look at interest in interconnecting the Irish grid to the UK grid to allow further expansion of renewable energy projects - UK and Ireland eye subsea links to boost green-power sharing.

Senior politicians from the UK and Ireland are meeting to discuss building a series of subsea interconnectors around the British Isles, in a bid to boost the commercial prospects of offshore renewables.

Closer integration of the two nations' power networks could open new markets for Irish-generated renewable electricity and help the UK meet its green energy targets.

Development of the offshore wind, wave and tidal sectors in Ireland has been stymied by the modest size of its local electricity market.

UK energy minister Charles Hendry notes that the west coast of Ireland has some of the most consistently fierce winds in Europe, yet hosts no offshore wind farms. Ireland’s only existing offshore wind facility is the seven-turbine Arklow Bank array in the Irish Sea – the world’s first commercial project.

"The Irish market for electricity is less than a tenth of that in Britain," Hendry says. "That means that companies cannot afford to build wind farms in Ireland because there is no market for their power. We want to put that right."

The only interconnector currently linking the Irish and UK grids is the 250MW Moyle line running between Northern Ireland and Scotland. Irish state-run grid operator EirGrid is currently building a 500MW link between County Fingal and North Wales.

But the politicians involved in the talks in London – including UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny and Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond – believe those two lines should only represent a start.

The talks will include plans to better integrate a host of wave- and tide-rich islands into the UK grid, including the Isle of Islay, the Isle of Man and the Orkneys in Scotland – as well as the Channel Islands of Guernsey and Jersey, which are also represented at the discussions.

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