Plans announced yesterday for a study into the feasibility of wind and wave farms off the coast of Northern Ireland and Scotland were heralded as a positive step forward by The Renewable Energy Centre.co.uk
Costing 1.6 million and funded mainly by Inter-Reg, an EU (European Union) funded programme, the study will begin later this year. The west coast of Scotland and the North and North East coast of Ireland have a huge potential to harness both wind and wave power. The study will investigate the possibility of establishing a grid infrastructure between the two locations which would allow for an offshore transmission network. This would attract commercial investors and the area could become one of the key supply chains of renewable energy for Scotland and the UK.
Scotland has already committed to an ambitious target of sourcing 50% of their energy from renewable sources by 2020 and this study could pave the way to a successful achievement of this goal. Tim Mather, Scotland's Energy Minister said "To realise the potential of the huge win, wave and tidal resources at our disposal, we need to examine the longer term development of our grid infrastructure. Scotland, we believe has never been in better shape to become the green energy capital of Europe and in turn, a renewables powerhouse"
The Renewable Energy Centre said it was a positive move forward for the renewable energy industry and the grid infrastructure. The Centre has already highlighted the issues many investors are experiencing with delays because of grid access and transmission and this study shows that efforts are being made to create a grid network which will support the future of the UK's energy supply.
The Energy Minister for Northern Ireland agreed saying "We have a vast wealth of free natural resources that we can harness to provide ourselves with a clean and sustainable source of energy"
The Renewable Energy Centre said that more effort to upgrade and prepare the national grid could not come soon enough and that if the UK was to continue to flourish in the wind, wave and tidal industry improvements needed to be planned and implemented without delay.
Richard Simmons Managing Director at The Renewable Energy Centre said "The renewable industry is forging ahead in order to ensure the UK's future energy supply but as usual our infrastructure is sadly lacking. This has been known for many years and still upgrades and necessary works to support this new industry are hampering projects all over the UK. The Beauly Denny line which would open up the east coast of Scotland has been in planning application since 2005 and is still nowhere near being finalised. Much of the national grid will need to be upgraded in the next 5 to 10 years but at this rate it will seriously affect the progress of the renewable energy industry."
The Renewable Energy Centre stated that the government and Ofgem needed to work together and formulate a strategic and definite plan of development in order to maintain the momentum gathering the renewables industry. It said that now was the time for the government to act and move the UK forward in order to not only achieve its European Union targets but surpass them.
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