The findings of a detailed study on the potential for an offshore renewable energy grid connecting Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland have been revealed this morning by Ireland’s Energy Minister Pat Rabbitte, TD.
The full report on the Irish-Scottish Links on Energy Study (ISLES) has taken two years to compile. It was a collaborative effort between the Scottish government, the Northern Ireland Executive and the Irish Government.
The report has concluded that a cross-jurisdictional offshore-integrated network is apparently economically viable, with the potential to bring economic, environmental and market-related benefits to both Ireland and the UK.
The ISLES project has been funded under the EU via its INTERREG IVA programme. RPS Consultants in Dublin along with three energy consultancies from the UK – TNEI, PPA Energy and IHC – carried out the study.
The report itself looked into the financial, regulatory and technical challenges of building an offshore-interconnected transmission network and sub-sea electricity grid in order to support the generation of electricity from renewable sources in coastal waters off western Scotland and in the North Channel/Irish Sea area.
ISLES offshore grid concept image
Speaking this morning, Rabbitte touched on Ireland’s sea area that is almost 10 times the size of its landmass.
"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," he said.
The next step, according to the report, is for Ireland to produce offshore legislation that will dovetail with legislation in its neighbouring jurisdictions so that work can begin on putting the network in place by 2020.