Ireland, Belgium and UK agree to closer co-operation on renewables

Countries aim to boost interconnection of supplies and make the North Sea ‘the largest sustainable power plant in Europe’

Ireland has agreed with Belgium and Britain to scale up co-operation on renewable energy and interconnection opportunities.

A joint statement following a ministerial meeting in Bruges on Wednesday allows for closer co-operation in offshore wind and builds on ambition declared at the North Sea Summit in Ostend last year to accelerate development of offshore wind in the North seas – including the Irish Sea, Celtic Sea and Atlantic Ocean.

The nine countries involved in the Ostend Declaration have set offshore wind targets of about 120 gigawatts (GW) by 2030 and 300GW by 2050 in the North Seas, which today have a combined capacity of less than 30GW.

The three states will produce a report on shared challenges, opportunities and solutions to developing offshore renewables infrastructure, Minister for Energy Eamon Ryan said.

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“A multilateral approach is the only way to address Europe’s collective climate responsibilities,” Mr Ryan added. For Ireland, the most effective way to take advantage of its offshore wind potential over coming decades “is to put in place the infrastructure that allows us to access other markets”.

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He added: “Increased electricity interconnection is key as we continue to grow our use of renewable energy. One of the best characteristics of renewable energy is that it is, firstly, home-grown and accessible to every country... it works best if it can be shared.

“When we have excess offshore wind capacity in Ireland, it makes sense that we utilise and store what we need, but that we can also share our surplus supply with our neighbours through international co-operation and interconnection.”

This would reduce costs and ensure the most competitive power sources were used first, while providing energy security and price stability, he said.

Belgian minister Tinne van der Straeten said: “With this partnership, Ireland, the UK and Belgium are realising the ambitions set out at the North Sea Summit a year ago: to make the North Sea the largest sustainable power plant in Europe.”

The statement was signed on the sidelines of a meeting on offshore energy organised by the Belgian presidency of the EU.

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