The UK government today claimed it is still open to potential trading of renewable energy with Ireland – despite reports from across the Irish Sea that talks over the issue have faltered.
The Irish Independent quoted Ireland’s energy minister Pat Rabbitte as "doubtful” whether an inter-governmental agreement can be reached within a timeframe that would help the UK meet its 2020 renewable energy targets.
The two governments signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the issue in early 2013 and started discussions over a formal agreement. Any pact would have to nail down issues such as the eligibility of Irish power plants for UK renewables incentives.
A meeting between Rabbitte and UK energy secretary Ed Davey in Brussels this week failed to advance matters, said the report.
"In terms of the timelines dictated both by European policy and the exigencies imposed on developers – in other words between now and 2020 – I can't now see an export project as envisaged," Rabbitte is quoted as saying.
The UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) told Recharge: “The UK and Ireland have been working closely to explore the potential of developing Irish renewable resources to their mutual benefit and continue to do so. The UK remains committed to the prospect of trading of renewable energy.”
In reality the statement takes the UK position no further than the agreement in principle made at the time of the MoU, and the prospect of a deal receding will concern industry players that have identified Ireland-UK transmission as a major opportunity.
Three developers – Bord na Mona, Mainstream Renewable Power and Element Power – have come forward with proposals to build onshore wind farms in Ireland for gigawatt-scale export to the UK.
The plans for large-scale wind deployment in the Irish Midlands have spurred considerable local opposition.
A spokesman for Element Power, which has proposed its 3GW Greenwire plan to tap into export potential to the UK, said the company had no comment on the matter at this stage.
Ireland's Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources also had no comment on the reported quotes by its minister.