Today’s announcement that Ireland has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will see it join a European ‘Supergrid’ has been welcomed by the National Offshore Wind Association of Ireland (NOW Ireland), which hopes it will enable it to export offshore energy.
NOW Ireland said a new energy export industry could "rival Ireland’s agriculture industry in the future" and that the development of a ‘Supergrid‘ would allow Ireland to export offshore wind and eventually wave and tidal energy.
Interconnection a necessity
‘NOW Ireland has argued strongly, since our foundation, that interconnection would be a cornerstone necessary to build this industry. We believed that the EU would recognise the potential of Irish renewable energy and the role it can play in meeting climate change objectives.
"This memorandum is a critical step in building the grid infrastructure to make that happen. What we are likely to see is the development of a common European electricity market. This is hugely beneficial for Ireland," said NOW Ireland president Mick McBennet.
Formal preparations on the European energy ‘Supergrid’ project have begun in one of the world’s most ambitious renewable energy projects that will see Ireland, the UK, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden and the Benelux Countries join forces.
There is now about 2,600 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind in planning in Ireland. Building this will see an investment of more than €8bn. At least 800MW of that will be required for Ireland’s 2020 targets. The balance of 1,800MW can be delivered in the short term for export.
Bennet said that utilising these resources can be a stepping stone towards Ireland’s economic recovery.
"Ireland’s territorial area is nearly nine times bigger than our land area. We own huge areas of the sea and ocean offshore.
"Harnessing this resource, particularly with the scale which offshore wind offers, and building our export potential can contribute significantly to Ireland’s economic rebirth," said Bennet.