A detailed study into how an offshore electricity grid between Scotland, Northern
Ireland and Ireland could be introduced has now been commissioned after being awarded
The second part of the flagship Irish-Scottish Links on Energy Study (ISLES) has
now been given £1 million to examine how an offshore grid could be established by
breaking down the complex financial, legal and regulatory issues that can affect
cross-border energy projects.
Ministers from the three administrations, attending the British Irish Council summit
in Derry-Londonderry in Northern Ireland, welcomed the development and committed
to work together to examine how such a project could be brought to fruition.
The ISLES announcement comes days after SSE confirmed it would respond to a joint
Scottish and UK government study into the potential for renewable energy on Scotland’s
islands by submitting a needs case to Ofgem for a £780 million subsea cable link
to connect the Western Isles to the national grid.
First Minister Alex Salmond said the new ISLES European project funding, coupled
with SSE’s progress on the Western Isles connectivity cable, offered “hugely encouraging
progress” on the infrastructure necessary to allow the renewable energy industry
in all three markets to reach its full potential.
The First Minister said: “The waters around these islands have some of the most abundant
offshore energy resources anywhere in the world, but in order to harness this vast
potential it is vital that we have the infrastructure in place to transfer the energy
that is generated to where it is needed.
“That is why the ISLES project is so important. This innovative, cross-border study
is examining how we can establish an offshore electricity grid to make this transference
of energy easier, supporting our flourishing renewables industry by powering the
nation and allowing the surplus energy it generates to be exported to other markets.
"The timing of the ISLES funding is even more apt, coming as it does just days after
SSE confirmed that the potential for renewable energy output on Scotland’s islands
had led it to submit a needs case to Ofgem for its £780 million subsea cable link
to the Western Isles.
“Taken together, these announcements offer hugely encouraging progress on the infrastructure
that we need to secure to ensure the burgeoning renewables industry – in markets
across these islands – is allowed to reach its full potential.”
The first part of the study - published in November 2011 - showed there were no technical
barriers to the development of an ISLES offshore interconnected network, concluding
that there were no environmental constraints and sufficient onshore network capacity
in the UK for ISLES to be in place by 2020.
The ISLES project builds on the ‘all-islands’ approach for the development of renewable
energy resources exemplified by the work of the British Irish Council, which brings
the various administrations of these islands together for constructive dialogue on
a range of issues. More information on the British Irish Council is here.