David Cameron shows interest in Irish green energy import plan

The UK Prime Minister has reiterated his support for a project linking wind farms in Ireland to the grid in Britain, fuelling hopes that the muti-billion pound project could help to cut the cost of the UK’s transition towards cleaner sources of energy.

David Cameron and An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny addressed the plans at the Anglo-Irish summit this week, Downing Street confirmed in a statement.

“They discussed cooperation on energy, in particular the potential for exporting renewable electricity from Ireland to the UK ,” a spokesperson said. “The Prime Minister and Taoiseach agreed it was very important to continue to work closely together on this key issue.”

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The announcement was welcomed by Element Power, the company behind the proposed Greenwire project, a £6.5bn onshore wind farm planned for the centre of Ireland that could provide up to 10 terawatt hours of clean electricity each year, representing a 10th of the total the UK will need to meet its renewable energy targets.

A memorandum of understanding was signed between the two countries committing them to working together to explore the potential for renewable energy exports in January 2013 , but progress on the ambitious project has reportedly stalled since then.

Mike O’Neill , chief executive of Element Power , urged the two governments to move swiftly to agree the formal Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) that would enable renewable energy imports and called for support for the project under the UK’s electricity market reform programme.

“This announcement will help reassure investors in Greenwire and other similar projects and is therefore most welcome,” O’Neill said. “However, it is vital that we secure a formalised IGA and clarity on how the UK’s Contracts for Difference will apply to international projects at the earliest opportunity so that we can proceed to deliver Greenwire in time to help meet 2020 targets whilst saving UK energy consumers billions of pounds, creating jobs in the UK and Ireland , and improving the UK’s energy security.”

The news came in the same week as the Telegraph reported that the plans to develop a fleet of onshore wind farms in mid- Ireland were facing increasing opposition from local community groups, which could yet present a major barrier to the project being realised. Source: EnergyBiz