Deal opens up export of wind power to UK

Power grid operators signed a deal yesterday to investigate the feasibility of a 5,000 megawatt electricity transportation system which could export wind power from Ireland to the UK within five years.

The UK’s National Grid and Portugal’s grid operator REN are working on a feasibility study for the project alongside Dublin-based renewable-energy generator Mainstream Renewable Power. REN is 25% owned by China’s dominant utility firm State Grid Corp.

“REN believes this memorandum of understanding sets the ground for the study of a potentially groundbreaking infrastructure for the future of European energy highways,” REN chief executive Rui Cartaxo said in a statement.

Mainstream Renewable Power aims to supply 1.2 gigawatts of power to the UK by 2017. The project could create as many as 54,000 jobs in the midlands, according to the company.

Mainstream chief executive Eddie O’Connor said: “We are now putting a team of experts together in order to conduct comprehensive feasibility studies and a business plan. This will be the precursor to the companies forming a joint venture to develop, build, finance, own and operate the system. This has never been done anywhere in the world and Mainstream is very excited to be leading such a groundbreaking project.”

Ireland is expected to produce more wind power than it needs, leaving room for exports to Britain, which has a target to generate 15% of its energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020, compared with around 9% last year.

Mainstream said it has already secured an offer for 5,000 megawatts of grid connection to the UK, which is independent of Ireland’s existing grid structure.


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