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Call for onshore, offshore wind plans to be separated

Multibillion euro offshore wind projects must be separated from Anglo-Irish disagreements about the British subsidies to be paid for wind energy from the midlands, a leading offshore executive has said.

The disagreements threaten a deal, where Irish onshore and offshore green energy would be exported to Britain, but counted in the UK’s figures for European Union-set green energy targets.

Minister for Energy Pat Rabbitte this week laid the blame for the logjam on the British side, saying it now wants to pay no more in subsidies for onshore Irish wind than it would do for British onshore wind.

However, Brian Britten, managing director of Oriel Wind, said the Government urgently needs to separate Irish onshore and offshore projects in the negotiations.

“I understand [it is] trying to deal with the whole package at one go. They are trying to find out how many megawatts the UK wants and what price they are prepared to pay,” he said.

However, he said the offshore project plans – Oriel, Codling, Kish and Arklow Bank – are far more developed than those in the midlands to be run by Element Power, Mainstream and Bord Na Móna.

“We think that the Government needs to differentiate between offshore and onshore. I believe the British government does differentiate but I would like the Irish Government to clarify the situation,” he said.

Mr Rabbitte’s warning last week that problems had occurred in the negotiations “took the offshore industry by surprise”, said Mr Britten, who heads the Irish Offshore Wind Association.

Investors
Even more importantly, his remarks have concerned investors: “The message has been not positive. That is not helping the ultimate development of this resource.

“The phone hasn’t stopped ringing since last Friday”, with people asking what was going on, he said.

In all, €8 billion in investment is “ready to go” for 2.6 gigawatts of energy there. “All the fundamentals stack up. We have very, very high wind speeds, shallow waters and we are close to the market.”

Up to three gigawatts more could be produced at sea. On land, Element, Mainstream and Bord na Móna plan over four gigawatts, though their proposals are meeting stiff local opposition.