Report backs Irish-Scottish energy grid

Building a new electricity grid under the Irish Sea that would connect Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland could boost the renewable sector, create jobs, generate revenues and improve energy security, a report has concluded.

The report, The Irish-Scottish Links on Energy Study (ISLES), looked at the impacts of linking the countries’ energy networks within the next 10 years.

The construction of an interconnected transmission network would allow the countries to generate income from selling renewable energy to each other, and eventually Europe, and reduce reliance on imported energy while working together would reduce infrastructure costs, the report says.

Speaking at the launch of the report at the National Economic Forum/ISLES Conference in Glasgow, the Scottish government's finance secretary John Swinney welcomed the findings.

"This ground-breaking study highlights the opportunities and the challenges in realising our shared renewables potential," he said.

"The low carbon economy could re-industrialise Scotland and the transmission network is an enormous part of that."

However, Northern Ireland’s energy minister Arlene Foster warned that there were serious obstacles to overcome before it could happen.

"The ISLES study presents significant challenges to government and potential investors. Across each of our countries there are barriers to regional integration of energy trading systems," she said.

"Government needs to work with the energy sector to make the investment environment more attractive but without imposing undue costs on the end customer."

Minsters now plan to take the findings to Westminster and Brussels.

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