The UK’s National Grid and Portuguese grid operator REN are jointly working to develop a 5,000 megawatt electricity transportation system, called the Energy Bridge, designed to export wind power from Ireland to the UK within the next five years. Dublin-based renewables company Mainstream Renewable Power is also in on the project, and a deal was signed among grid operators yesterday.
The first 1.2 gigawatts of power is scheduled to be installed by 2017. REN is owned in part (25 percent) by the Chinese utility firm State Grid Corp, the world’s single-largest electricity transportation company, which has connected over 50 gigawatts of wind power capacity in China.
"REN believes this memorandum of understanding sets the ground for the study of a potentially groundbreaking infrastructure for the future of European energy highways," REN Chief Executive Rui Cartaxo said in a statement.
It is projected that Ireland will produce much more wind power than it consumes, which means it can readily export to Britain. That country has set a target of generating 15 percent of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2020.
Mainstream’s vision for the overall project involves a huge onshore wind development program across the Irish Midlands. The power produced will then be exported via the Energy Bridge project and sold directly on the UK market.
Although Mainstream has kept the possibility of collaboration with other developers on Energy Bridge open, it has also stated that it can manage on its own. In a recent fundraising round, the company raised 17 million euros, or $22 million, from high net worth individuals interested in investing in the Energy Bridge project.
China, meanwhile, has already shown its clear interest in investing in Britain’s ambitious renewables project. Two Chinese firms have teamed up to participate in the UK’s 6 gigawatt Horizon project.