The great bog of Ireland, spoken of in song and story, could become the host to hundreds of wind farms which would generate electricity exclusively for the United Kingdom's national grid.
According to the Guardian,the plan is already being considered by Irish government ministers. Element Power, the company behind the $8 billion dollar proposal, hopes to build more than 700 turbines and transport the power generated through two dedicated undersea cables across the Irish sea to the UK.
Element executives have reportedly met with Ed Davey, the British cabinet minister in charge of climate change, to discuss the plans this summer.
The plans have also been discussed among the UK coalition government and appear to have won their support.
To help finance the Irish project, the company would need access to the subsidies currently given to UK wind power, but that sets a potentially awkward precedent – which could imply that any foreign energy projects could request UK subsidies – presenting unusual challenges to the project.
Mike O'Neill, the president of Element Power, sees only a win for British government, however. “Our experience is that it is easier to get planning permission in the Republic of Ireland, if you do it in a sensible and sensitive way,” he told the Guardian.
O'Neill's plan acknowledges that Britain's electricity suppliers are obliged to provide an increasing percentage of their electricity from renewable sources, cutting the carbon emissions that drive climate change and meeting their own targets.
Element Power claims its project, entitled Greenwire, will provide electricity at two-thirds of the cost of building an offshore wind farm, which will reduce the amount that needs to be charged to the UK consumer by £7 billion over 15 years. It added that the project could provide 3GW of electricity capacity and employ thousands of workers.
O'Neill said the project could start generating power from 2018, if the subsidy obstacle could be overcome.
Currently there are more than 1,100 turbines in operation in Ireland, mostly located at 176 onshore windfarms with a further seven offshore.
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