Initial discussions have taken place between the Manx and Irish governments about the possibility of a joint project to share the costs of a wind farm in the Irish Sea.
The idea was amongst a number of issues debated at the British Irish Council meeting in London yesterday attended by the Isle of Man’s chief minister Tony Brown, treasury minister Anne Craine and environment minister John Shimmin.
It follows the announcement that the UK is considering an extension of its grid as far as Ireland, bringing the Isle of Man into the debate.
“There is a potential renewable energy opportunity,” said Mr Brown. “It is early days, but it will be interesting to hear what is being proposed and how we can be an active party.”
The Isle of Man has already made a commitment to have 15% of its electricity generated from renewable sources by 2015, with wind farms being one of the favoured options.
However, the suggestion of land-based wind farms on various proposed sites – mostly in the north and west of the Island – were greeted with plenty of hostility when announced and an offshore wind farm did not receive any better reaction from the public.
Mr Brown said that if the electricity was brought to the Isle of Man from Irish wind farms it would remove to need to create an expensive new facility off the Manx coast. “We are aware of the visual impact,” he added.
In May, Centrica announced that it intended to submit plans to create an offshore wind farm 12 miles off the west coast of the Isle of Man, with a target date of completion by 2018. John Shimmin said the scheme would give the Island energy independence and create more electricity than needed, offering the opportunity to export power.
However, yesterday’s debate looks likely to put such plans on hold – and perhaps to be withdrawn altogether.