Historic wind energy-sharing deal between Ireland and UK

21 Jun 2011

The Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA) has welcomed the signing of an historic deal between Ireland and the UK government that will potentially pave the way for exploiting Ireland’s wind energy resources.

Responding to the announcement following yesterday’s British Irish Council meeting of a deal to co-operate on exploiting the major wind and marine resource in and around Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, Irish Wind Energy Association chief executive Dr Michael Walsh said it may be seen in time as a milestone moment for Ireland in terms of maximising the potential of the wind sector.

“It’s early days yet and we await the detail of what’s in the deal but it certainly is a major step in the right direction and potentially paves the way for what we believe could be a €1.6bn annual export industry for Ireland and total new employment in the sector of 28,000 jobs.

“This deal, perhaps more than anything else that has gone before, recognises the huge potential from wind energy on the island of Ireland, given that it is a trading partner and not just ourselves that has recognised that the wind resource we have here is unique and largely underutilised. We have long since in the IWEA trumpeted the potential for exporting wind energy from Ireland and this deal will hopefully bring it to fruition, sooner rather than later,” said Walsh.

Integration of the Irish and UK markets

Walsh, in particular, welcomed the support from Charles Hendry, UK Minister of State for Energy, on the deal. “This all-islands approach will, we anticipate, facilitate a significant increase in wind-energy development here and finally maximise our under-utilised resource,” Walsh continued.

“It will also enable the integration of the Irish and UK markets. This will be a two-way approach but based on our unique wind resources, we anticipate we will have a lot more to export than import.

“All European countries have a legally binding agreement with the EU to deliver a fixed share of their energy from renewable sources. Fortunately, Ireland can meet our 16pc renewable energy target very economically and go well beyond that.

“What’s critical, however, is that we have the regulatory framework in place to facilitate this because we have clearly had difficulties heretofore in this regard and if we do not put this right we will lose out on this huge opportunity,” Walsh said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years