A fleet of huge wind turbines could be built in Ireland over the next few years, eventually providing clean power to 3m homes in the UK.
Energy secretary Ed Davey and Irish energy minister Pat Rabbitte are set to meet today to discuss the proposals and sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to export wind energy across the Irish Sea.
The turbines – some of which will stand 180 metres tall – will begin generating power in 2020.
“They will be spread around 40 clusters in five counties”, Peter Harte of Element Power, one of the developers of the proposed project, told the BBC.
“We felt it was better to build slightly larger turbines but fewer of them and that’s the best way to minimise the impact on the local area.”
A report by Ernst & Young last year predicted that 80,000 jobs and a GDP contribution of €3.9 billion could be attributed to Ireland’s clean technology sector by 2020, and the proposed wind project would help Ireland meet its legally-binding renewable energy targets. But some critics have questioned the economic benefits of the deal.
“From an Irish perspective this is not selling the family silver; this is giving it away”, commented Richard Tol, professor of economics at the University of Sussex.
“There is no money staying in Ireland that I can see. But from the British perspective it is a good deal.”
Following the signing of the MoU, the UK and Ireland will review the plans for another year, before reconvening in 2014 in the hope of signing a final deal.