A major wind developer has warned that without an intergovernmental agreement, Irish wind imports to the UK will not help towards the 2020 renewables target.
Taioseach Edna Kenny and PM David Cameron discussed the matter on Tuesday, agreeing that “it was very important to continue to work closely together on this key issue”, according to a statement from Number 10.
However, last week the Irish Energy Minister Pat Rabbitte advised that it was unlikely that any deal would be made in time for the wind turbines to be generating power by 2020, with Element Power stating that more information would be required to keep investors involved.
Element’s £6.5 billion Greenwire proposal would involve building up to 3GW of onshore wind power capacity in the Irish midlands. Another developer, Mainstream, is aiming to build 5GW to start exporting in 2018.
There are various legal issues to be discussed, with both countries reliant on UK subsidies – despite the signing of a memorandum of understanding in January 2013.
Mike O’Neill, CEO of Element Power, said: “This announcement will help reassure investors in Greenwire and other similar projects and is therefore most welcome. However, it is vital that we secure a formalised IGA [intergovernmental agreement] and clarity on how the UK’s contracts for difference will apply to international projects at the earliest opportunity so that we can proceed to deliver Greenwire in time to help meet 2020 targets whilst saving UK energy consumers billions of pounds, creating jobs in the UK and Ireland, and improving the UK’s energy security.”
They are pitching for support under the contracts for difference regime. Wind power generated in Ireland will require a higher “strike price” than that generated in the UK, to factor in the cost of building an undersea cable, but promises “significant cost savings” compared to offshore wind.