Offshore wind farms want talks on power exports to Britain
Offshore wind operators have called on the Government to open fresh negotiations aimed at allowing them to export electricity to the UK from wind farms along the east coast.
The National Offshore Wind Energy Association of Ireland (NOW Ireland) said members were ready to build farms capable of selling 3,000MW of power, enough for about 2.5 million homes, within three years.
The call was made after the Irish Independent revealed that talks between Dublin and London, which would allow power to be traded between both countries, were now unlikely to go ahead.
A deal would have allowed power from controversial wind farms in the midlands to be exported to the UK to help it meet renewable energy targets.
The collapse of that proposed deal means that exports are unlikely to occur by the 2020 timescale envisaged.
The general secretary of NOW Ireland, Brian Britton, said new negotiations, focused solely on offshore wind farms, should open as quickly as possible.
Some 3,000MW of energy have already been approved or are awaiting final permission, including up to 200 turbines off Arklow in Co Wicklow, 55 more at Oriel, some 22km off Dundalk, and the Codling Wind Park, 13km off Wicklow. Two other projects are also in development.
"The phones haven't stopped ringing from members of the investment community," Mr Britton said. "If we're not going to have an intergovernmental agreement, it should be possible for the Government to negotiate with the British.
"The Government, with industry, should be continuing to capitalise on every effort to drive this forward."
Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said trading electricity with the UK and other markets continued to "make sense".
However, Andrew Duncan from the Lakelands Windfarm Information Group, which is lobbying against the midlands export projects, welcomed yesterday's news, saying: "Whether it's the end of the project or not, we don't know.
"We'd cautiously welcome the news but it's difficult to see if this is dead in the water."