Ireland and Scotland are looking into an offshore wind power grid to connect Ireland, Northern Ireland and western Scotland. The countries' energy ministers have announced they have secured funding from the EU Interreg program towards a £1.6 million feasibility study into an offshore transmission network. Irish energy minister Eamon Ryan says: "With our shared location, on the periphery of Europe and close to both the Atlantic and North Sea, Ireland and Scotland have a constant and plentiful wind supply. We must use this to our advantage, which interconnection allows us to do." Interconnection brings benefits of security of supply, flexible trading of electricity and reduced energy costs. "Environmentally, it will help us as we near agreement with our European colleagues on trading excess renewable power in order to meet our climate change targets," he adds. The Irish-Scottish Links on Energy Study, dubbed the ISLAS project, kicks off later this year. It will look into the technological, economic, construction and regulatory factors associated with an offshore grid to capitalise on the renewable energy potential between Ireland and the west coast of Scotland. The National Offshore Wind Energy Association of Ireland (NOW) welcomes the study. The group, formed in 2007, has vigorously lobbied Ryan on the issue of interconnection. NOW points out that a link to Britain will allow Ireland to export renewable energy in large quantities to the UK and potentially further afield. The group estimates that in the short term over 2000 MW of offshore wind could be generated from existing license areas in Irish waters. Long term, the potential is far greater, it says.
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