The Irish and British governments are on track to sign up to the first element of a deal next month that will pave the way for electricity exports from the Republic to Britain.
Speaking on the margins of the one-day conference on Ireland’s upcoming presidency of the EU yesterday, Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte said the two governments were to sign a memorandum of understanding next month.
The move should lead to a full inter-governmental agreement that will allow exports of wind-generated electricity from the Republic to Britain.
Mr Rabbitte has been in talks with the British government for some time.
Last June, he said he hoped to make progress with a formal agreement within six months.
The deal will allow onshore wind farms and offshore plants in the Republic’s waters to plug directly into Britain’s national grid to sell electricity.
A number of players – including Mainstream Renewable Energy, led by Airtricity founder Eddie O’Connor; Element Wind Power, which is backed by US-based Hudson Clean Energy; and Oriel Windfarms, whose investors include Martin Naughton of Glen Dimplex – plan to cash in on such an agreement, should it materialise.
Last September, British prime minister David Cameron replaced Charles Hendry, the minister with whom Mr Rabbitte had been in talks, with John Hayes, who is sceptical about wind power.
The change in personnel proved controversial with the British renewables industry and sparked concerns here that it could affect plans to import wind-generated electricity.
However, the issue has been transferred to the charge of the British government’s secretary of state for energy and climate change, Ed Davey. It is understood that his department supports the plan.
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