The business case for the building of large-scale wind farms and the transmission networks that go with them is under threat from a policy move in Brussels.
Intense negotiations are under way that could result in the European Commission scrapping binding targets for renewable energy from 2030.
The policies driving Ireland’s transformation into a renewable energy powerhouse have been based on the EU sticking to its policy of forcing countries to have a certain percentage of their energy generated from renewable sources.
A number of projects that have been announced in Ireland have been solely aimed at exporting Irish-generated electricity to meet the UK’s requirement under future EU law to have 30%-35% of its power generated from renewable resources.
Irish Wind Energy Association CEO Kenneth Matthews said the negotiations are still under way.
"It is important to note that EU discussions on the 2030 framework are still under way. Ireland was one of eight European states to write directly to the European Commission to outline a preference for binding renewable targets for 2030, signalling our continuing ambition to further develop clean sources of indigenous energy," he said.
In the UK, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said that they were completely against any binding targets
"The UK Government has a clear position on the EU 2030 framework — we support a binding unilateral EU-wide 2030 Green House Gas target of 40% moving up to 50% in the context of a global climate deal. We do not support a renewables target," a spokesperson said.
If the UK wins in its battle with Brussels, Ireland’s plans to export renewable energy to the UK would no longer make economic sense, according to professor of economics at the University of Sussex, Richard Tol.
Prof Tol said wind-energy generation is still more costly than existing technologies. He said that without the subsidies exporting Irish wind power does not make sense. "You are talking about using technology that is still not competitive without subsidies. Generating without the subsidies and the whole business model disappears. If the targets disappear, the subsidies disappear and with it the business case for massive wind farms in the midlands," he said.