Ireland, UK and Belgium pledge to work closer together on renewable energy and electrical interconnection

Ireland, UK and Belgium pledge to work closer together on renewable energy and electrical interconnection

THE governments of Ireland, the UK and Belgium have agreed to work more closely together on renewable energies and interconnection opportunities.

Yesterday, following a ministerial meeting in Bruges, they signed a joint statement which “paves the way” for greater cooperation on renewables and shared electrical opportunities between the three countries.

The signatures came from Ireland’s Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan, along with Belgian and UK counterparts, Minister Tinne van der Straeten and Andrew Bowie.

"Increased electricity interconnection is key as we continue to grow our use of renewable energy,” Minister Ryan said.

“One of the best characteristics of renewable energy is that it is, firstly, home grown and accessible to every country.

“A second key characteristic is that it works best if it can be shared,” he added.

Green Party leader and Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan

“When we have excess offshore wind capacity in Ireland, for example, 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 cooperation and interconnection.

“It reduces costs, through sharing surplus energy, through sharing reserves and by ensuring the most competitive power sources are used first."

Minister Ryan claims a multilateral approach is the only way to address Europe’s collective climate responsibilities.

For Ireland specifically, he believes the most effective way to take advantage of the nation’s offshore wind potential in the years ahead is to put in place the infrastructure that allows Ireland to access other markets.

"We need to work together to address our collective climate responsibilities, ensuring energy security and price stability, and that is why I am delighted to sign this agreement with the energy ministers in Belgium and the UK to assertively address the need to increase interconnection corridors between our three countries,” Mr Ryan said.

This week's joint statement will allow for closer cooperation in offshore wind energy between the three countries.

It also builds on the target set at the North Sea Summit held in Ostend last year to accelerate the development of offshore wind in the North Seas, including the Irish Sea, Celtic Sea and Atlantic Ocean.

Together, the nine countries involved in the Ostend Declaration have set offshore wind targets of about 120GW by 2030 and 300GW by 2050 in the North Seas.

Currently, the North Sea has a combined capacity of less than 30GW.

A working group will now be set up to produce a report on the “shared challenges, opportunities and solutions to developing offshore renewable energy infrastructure”, Minister Ryan’s department have confirmed.

Ireland's electricity operator EirGrid will now engage with its counterparts in Belgium and the UK and report back on potential options for trilateral arrangements between the three countries.

It is expected that this work will be completed in the first half of 2025.