Talks on single energy grid under way


TALKS TO overcome the barriers to the creation of a single green energy market between Ireland and Britain are under way between officials, the British-Irish Council reported yesterday.

Complex “financial, legal and regulatory barriers” must be overcome to enable cross-border trading, including the need for greater interconnections between electricity grids.

The twice-yearly meeting of the British-Irish Council was hosted in Stirling by Scottish first minister Alex Salmond, who has vowed to make Scotland “the Saudi Arabia of green energy”.

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte and his British counterpart, Charles Hendry, met last week in London for talks on agreeing a memorandum of understanding on the issue.

“It would allow us to get to a point where the potential for Ireland to be able to export energy to Britain would become a reality,” Taoiseach Enda Kenny said of the Rabbitte-Hendry talks.

“We have the potential to produce very much more than we actually need, so there is very much the potential for export. Scotland has been leading this, though Ireland has done quite well,” he said.

British energy companies are investing heavily in offshore wind in Scotland, though Ireland has the potential to produce energy more cheaply in shallower waters.

An Anglo-Irish team of officials, chaired by officials in Britain’s department of energy and climate change, is investigating the issues posed by linking the two grids.

“Huge and important progress is being made on developing wave and tidal power in Scotland,” Mr Salmond said after the meeting, adding that the work of the council is helping to further co-operation.

The council is made up of the Irish and British governments, the devolved administrations in Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh, and the British crown dependencies of Guernsey, the Isle of Man and Jersey.