Three European countries planning to develop hybrid electricity interconnector

Plan unveiled for Europe’s first hybrid electricity interconnector between three countries

Belgium, Ireland and the UK have signed a joint statement to increase their cooperation on renewables and interconnection opportunities, as well as a letter of agreement on the development of what is said to be Europe’s first planned hybrid electricity interconnector between three countries.

Source: Minister Eamon Ryan/ Twitter

The joint statement is set to allow for closer cooperation in offshore wind energy between the three countries and builds on the ambition declared at the North Sea Summit, held last year in Ostend, to accelerate the development of offshore wind in the North Seas, including the Irish Sea, Celtic Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.

Irish Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan, and his Belgian and UK counterparts, ministers Tinne van der Straeten and Andrew Bowie, signed the joint statement in Bruges, Belgium, yesterday, May 15.

Ryan spoke about how a multilateral approach is the only way to address Europe’s collective climate responsibilities. For Ireland specifically, the Irish minister stated that the most effective way to take advantage of the country’s offshore wind potential over the coming decades is to put in place the infrastructure that allows access to other markets.

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“Increased electricity interconnection is key as we continue to grow our use of renewable energy. One of the best characteristics of renewable energy is that it is, firstly, home grown and accessible to every country. A second key characteristic is that it works best if it can be shared. When we have excess offshore wind capacity in Ireland, for example, it makes sense that we utilise and store what we need but that we can also share our surplus supply with our neighbours through international cooperation and interconnection,” Ryan said.

“We need to work together to address our collective climate responsibilities, ensuring energy security and price stability, and that is why I am delighted to sign this agreement with the energy ministers in Belgium and the UK to assertively address the need to increase interconnection corridors between our three countries.”

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Together, nine countries involved in the Ostend Declaration have set offshore wind targets of about 120 GW by 2030 and 300 GW by 2050 in the North Seas, which today has a combined capacity of less than 30 GW.

This renewed cooperation between Belgium, Ireland and the UK will also see the establishment of a working group that will produce a report on the shared challenges, opportunities and solutions to developing offshore renewable energy infrastructure.

As part of this, Irish transmission system operator (TSO) EirGrid, in line with Ireland’s own interconnection policy, and as part of the development of the country’s forward-looking transmission strategy, will engage with its counterparts in Belgium and UK and will report back to their respective ministries with options for trilateral arrangements between the three countries including any challenges related to these options. It is expected that this work will be completed in the first half of 2025.

The joint statement was signed on the sidelines of a Ministerial Meeting on offshore wind energy organized by the Belgian Energy Ministers under the Belgian Presidency.

“With this partnership, Ireland, the UK and Belgium are realising the ambitions set out at the North Sea Summit in Ostend a year ago: to make the North Sea the largest sustainable power plant in Europe. The key now is to implement the actions to follow through on those ambitions and power our green future,” said Minister Van der Straeten.

“Thanks to this Joint Statement, we can explore a promising opportunity for interconnection between our three countries. This is a valuable addition to the interconnections Belgium is already exploring, such as with the UK, Norway and Denmark, after which we will be able to select the best options for our country.”