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Rabbitte: Energy export target ‘very difficult to achieve’

Minister for Energy Pat Rabbitte has expressed doubt that Ireland will be exporting wind energy to Great Britain in time to help them meet their EU renewable energy targets.

A memorandum of understanding aimed at exporting wind energy was signed between both countries last year but in recent weeks it emerged that the plans whereby the UK could benefit from Ireland’s excess wind energy had hit a logjam.

A three-month deadline was agreed between both governments to see if a new plan could be drawn up.

Speaking to the Oireachtas Committee on Energy today, Minister Rabbitte admitted that “the economic policy and regulatory complexities involved, and the key decisions yet to be taken by the UK, would make 2020 delivery very difficult to achieve given project lead times”.

“Both my Department and the Department of Energy and Climate Change have been examining the outcome of the London Summit.

However, it is clear that key policies and regulatory design decisions still remain to be taken by the UK Government, which means that we are still a considerable distance from settling on the specifics of what the Irish Government and the renewable generators believe must be the basic components of any intergovernmental agreement,” he said.

Minister Rabbitte said that if the 2020 deal doesn’t happen, all is not lost and that the export potential would still exists.

“We haven’t changed our mind,” he said. He also warned that the deal will only be done “if the figures add up”.

“The long-term opportunities to export renewable energy will endure, as Europe moves to an increasingly interconnected electricity market, supporting increasing amounts of renewables so as to achieve sustainability and to enhance security of supply,” he said.

Minister Rabbitte came under huge pressure from members of the committee to publish a cost-benefit analysis to justify why the Government was promoting the UK export deal.

Minister Rabbitte said the cost benefit analysis completed by experts for his department “shows significant economic value rebounding to Ireland”.

“We won’t publish the cost benefit analysis now for reasons of commercial sensitivity as we don’t want to show our hand to prospective partners… When talks conclude, we will be happy to put it in the public domain… We will be willing to show afterwards but if there is an agreement we will still have to be careful,” he said.