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Thursday 28 August 2014

Windfarms supplying UK won't get tax subsidies

Shane Phelan Public Affairs Editor

Published 17/01/2014 | 02:30

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Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte Picture: Frank Mc Grath

TAXPAYERS and consumers will not have to subsidise the development of windfarms which export energy to the UK, Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte has pledged.

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The move comes amid mounting opposition to plans for large-scale farms across the midlands, which are designed to export power to the UK, and will not result in additional electricity being provided to Irish consumers.

The sector has been heavily subsidised in recent years as the Government aims to hit an EU target of meeting 16pc of total energy demand from renewable resources by 2020.

However, Mr Rabbitte has ruled out any taxpayer funding or consumer levy for the swathe of windfarms planned by private companies and semi-states, including Bord na Mona.

Three separate plans for large-scale farms to serve the UK market have been proposed.

One is from Mainstream Renewable Power, which plans to build farms across six counties -- Offaly, Laois, Meath, Kildare, Westmeath and Tipperary -- producing 5,000 megawatts of power for export to Britain via underground cables.

The second is from Element Power, which has plans for 40 farms in sites in Meath, Westmeath, Kildare, Laois and Offaly.

STRUGGLE

A third project, planned by Bord na Mona, would see 20,000 hectares of land in Offaly and Kildare used for windfarms exporting power to the UK and Europe.

The UK's struggle to meet 2020 targets, coupled with increasing demand for energy, prompted its government to sign a memorandum of understanding with Ireland last year.

A formal agreement between both governments will be signed later this year.

Windfarms developed in Ireland benefit from the REFIT subsidy scheme, which ensures companies get a guaranteed price for every megawatt of power generated from renewable sources. Some 800 homes can be powered using one megawatt of electricity.

However, the Government has ruled out the prospect of any state subsidies for the windfarms to be developed as a result of the intergovernmental agreement.

In a statement, Mr Rabbitte's department said: "The mechanism for remunerating any wind farms that may in the future export renewable energy to the UK has yet to be decided but will not involve any subsidy costs being imposed on the Irish State or consumer."

Irish Independent

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