UK set to buy renewable energy from Ireland
Ireland has taken a step closer to exporting renewable energy to the UK after the two governments signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) yesterday.
The document, which affirms the two countries' commitment to maintaining a strong partnership on energy issues, was signed by the UK Secretary for Energy and Climate Change, Edward Davey and the Irish Minister for Communications Energy & Natural Resources, Pat Rabbitte.
It is hoped the MOU will allow for a closer integration of electricity markets, and will maximise the joint sustainable use of low-carbon renewable energy resources.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) claimed the MOU would trigger adetailed analysis of how Irish renewable energy resources might be developed to the mutual benefit of Ireland and the United Kingdom.
It explained that if the analysis demonstrates that renewables trading would be of mutual benefit, the next stage would be to develop an inter-governmental agreement to be signed in 2014.
The move was made possible by the recently published Energy Bill in the UK which allows for the direct import of renewable power from neighbouring EU Member States.
Rabbitte said in a statement: "Ireland has the potential to generate far more wind energy than we could consume domestically.
"The opportunity to export this green power presents an opportunity for employment growth and export earnings which we must seize if we can. Today the two Governments are committing themselves to a programme of work."
UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Edward Davey added: "Making the most of the natural renewable resource available around our islands could benefit the economies of both countries. The Memorandum of Understanding marks the continuation of close working between our Governments on the potential for energy trading."
The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) claimed the export of Ireland's wind energy to Britain could serve as a template for other countries and be a step towards a pan-European electricity grid.
EWEA policy director Justin Wilkes said: "With greater grid integration the UK and Ireland can expect more independence from imported fossil fuels, lower power prices thanks to greater competition, and more zero-carbon wind energy."
"This type of win-win-win wind solution is exactly what consumers, the UK, Ireland and the wind industry will benefit from as Europe's electricity systems and markets become more integrated. Wind energy is a key driver of this much-needed grid integration."