In Brussels today, Ministers responsible for energy policy from ten European countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the North Seas Countries Offshore Grid Initiative (NSCOGI).
NSCOGI is an ambitious partnership project between Ireland, the UK, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden and the Benelux Countries. It aims to:
· Develop transnational grid infrastructure in the North and North West Seas;
· Facilitate delivery of large-scale offshore wind projects to vastly increase the amount of renewable electricity generated from North Seas wind and waves; and
· Further secure European energy supplies and help deliver a market for renewable energy exports.
The agreement follows a political declaration of intent signed by the same countries this time last year, with the exception of Norway which entered the process later on from this date. It establishes a formal structure to proceed with the initiative. Work will focus on the coordinated development of offshore and onshore grids to ensure cost-effective and sustainable investment. Potential barriers to grid development, such as planning, legal or regulatory issues at national and EU level will be identified.
The Irish Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Eamon Ryan stated “Ireland has been driving this agenda since the beginning. We have the best wind and wave resources in Europe, and political will to match. This infrastructural project is set to be one of the biggest transnational power structures worldwide. It will ultimately connect offshore wind farms in Northern Europe allowing countries with surplus energy, to export to those with higher demand. Ireland will be one of the primary export countries.”