Talks beween the Republic and Britain on a deal allowing large-scale exports of electricity from the State to its nearest neighbour are set to step up over coming months, Minister for Energy Pat Rabbitte indicated yesterday.
Britain signalled last year that it would be willing to import excess “green” electricity from the Republic, a development that backers of a series of proposed offshore wind farms hope will underpin their businesses.
This will require a bilateral renewable energy trade agreement between the Republic’s Government and Westminster.
Mr Rabbitte and his opposite number in Britain, Charles Hendry, have held a number of talks about the possibility of completing such a deal in recent months.
Speaking at the Irish Institute of European Affairs yesterday, the Minister said “that work is set to intensify over the coming months, with the objective of achieving an intergovernmental agreement under the EU framework to underpin the export of renewable energy.”
Responding to questions from the audience after his speech, the Minister pointed out that the next engagement with the British administration would have to be focused on the eventual shape of the intergovernmental agreement.
The deal will have to be drawn up under the EU renewable energy directive. Mr Rabbitte said that the “overarching” strategic objective would be to make renewable energy a significant part of the Republic’s export industry and to boost its balance of payments.
Commenting on this week’s announcement that the Government intends to sell a number of ESB power plants as part of an overall disposal of State companies, Mr Rabbitte made it clear that forthcoming developments in the EU energy market had prompted the decision to retain ownership of the company as an integrated business. He explained that in 2014, Ireland’s energy market will become part of a regional structure made up of this country, Britain and France.
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