Dublin’s Aviva Stadium was the setting this evening for the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Irish and UK governments to progress plans for the trading of renewable energy between both countries, in a move that has been welcomed by the Irish wind-energy industry
Against the backdrop of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce conference ‘Gathering for Action’, Ireland’s Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte, TD, signed the MoU with Ed Davey, the UK’s Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.
The MoU could help both countries secure economic benefits by trading renewable energy and create jobs, particularly if it results in the exporting of wind-generated electricity from the Republic of Ireland to Britain.
Speaking before the signing of the document this evening, Rabbitte described the occasion as being “remarkable”.
“The links between our two countries has never been closer or warmer,” he said.
“We have the capacity in this country to generate wind energy well in excess of our needs,” explained Rabbitte. “If you exploit the renewable resources we have to their full potential, then you have a market.”
He said it was a “happy coincidence” that the MoU was to the mutual advantage of both countries, pointing to how the agreement would allow Britain to buy some of Ireland’s excess wind energy in order to meet its mandatory EU targets on renewable energy.
Rabbitte said he wasn’t playing down the fact Ireland had its own mandatory targets to meet, with the country aiming to have 40pc of electricity generated by renewable sources by 2020.
He said that first of all, Ireland has to make that target and then Eirgrid has to be satisfied that it has the capacity to support further integration of renewables into the electricity grid.
Following today’s memorandum, Rabbitte also said a lot of work will have to be done in terms of the “nuts and bolts” of energy trading between Ireland and the UK.
“Both countries will be looking at the complex engineering and market issues to make the changes in infrastructure to support this,” he said.
According to Rabbitte, if both governments can resolve such issues, this could pave the way for an inter-governmental agreement in 2014 to provide a formal basis for energy trading.
“We have the capacity to generate way in excess, perhaps twice of our all-island market needs,” he said, pointing to the potential for Ireland to export excess wind energy to the UK.
Rabbitte said this memorandum would hold the prospect of creating a new export sector from Ireland to Britain, as well as creating jobs.
Davey spoke about how both Ireland and the UK have challenging targets for renewables.
“We are making some long-standing major reforms to the UK market,” he said.
Davey said the Irish and UK governments would now need to work together over the next year to look at the engineering, financing and cost challenges, as well as regulatory issues.
“We have to look at the technical challenges,” he added.
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