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Ireland’s Chance of Green Gold

In the most Recent meeting of the British-Irish Council, attended by UK deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny and other senior members of the devolved governments met and discussed the issue of clean/green energy.

The Geographical location of the island of Ireland can prove to be a natural money spinner and one the country desperately needs to address it’s national debt. The location of Ireland, more specifically the west coast is normally fairly windy and would be an ideal location to place wind turbines/wind farm. You may ask, why is this relevant to the meeting?  Well due to the size v demand it is too expensive for the Irish government/ energy companies to build any large scale green energy projects, thus the idea that the UK and other European countries could possibly purchase green energy created in the country. There is also talks on a possible wave/ tide energy network which could also back up the demand for green energy and meeting targets set by the EU. Charles Hendry (UK Energy Secretary) noted to state that “The west coast of Ireland has some of the fiercest winds in Europe,”  followed by “They whip in off the Atlantic which makes it is an ideal location for wind farms. However, the Irish market for electricity is less than a tenth of that of Britain. That means that companies cannot afford to build wind farms in Ireland because there is no market for their power. We want to put that right.”

This would be a huge help to the UK’s current green energy targets and where the government tends to encounter much opposition from NIMBYs. The argument against building the wind farms in the west coast of Ireland would be peoples opposition due to the feeling it would destroy some of the most beautiful locations in Ireland. Already work is underway to connect the energy grids to both islands of the British Isles thus working co-operatively for better energy security amongst the two. The Irish Sea Inter-Connector will cost £500m and have a capacity of 500 megawatts. There would also be other potential connections thus allowing the opening up the new market for green energy being produced from the said eco friendly sources.

The areas suggested best suited for such a project are the Dingle Peninsula, Kerry and Galway coastal areas. Hendry responded to a question raising the issues argued by any potential opposition to the idea by stating  . “It will be up to the Irish government and the Irish people to decide if they want to build them. This is a voluntary programme and it could bring significant wealth to the country with very little downside.”

The other Areas suggested on mainland UK have been the islands of Islay and Orkney as promising sites for tidal energy creation areas. However, all sites suffer from the problem of remoteness which has also been addressed at the council meeting.

When discussing the possibility of the English channel being another area of green energy production, Hendry notes  “Some of the best resources for generating tidal power lie in waters off the Channel Islands,” Followed by the caution  “But as things stand at present, there is no way to get that power to mainland Britain. We need to look at building a new inter-connector with France, taking it from the new nuclear power station currently being built at Flamanville, via the Channel Islands, to the UK. When the tides are right at Jersey and Guernsey, we could take electricity from their wave generators, and when they are not providing power, take it from Flamanville.” All named proposals will now be considered and evaluated over the next 18 months, whereby any agreed projects could effectively start construction from around 2013.

All in all, this could prove to be an interest venture should the Irish Government agree to their part of any proposal. It can also prove to be financially rewarding for them which as already stated at the beginning is much needed cash to put into the national purse and helping them lessen the huge national debt. The proposals are ambitious but we shall see what action is actually undertaken over the next year and a half and onwards. If Britain does succeed by giving a go ahead to some if not all of the projects it would still see its green credentials rise and meet our European counterparts, which at this moment the UK is dragging a bit behind.

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