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EU, US and Chinese firms sign MOU to develop 5,000MW UK wind energy highway

Agreement marks “major milestone” in plan for 2017 energy bridge transmission system from Ireland to the UK

The energy bridge will transmit 5,000MW of wind power from Ireland to the UK

Energy firms from the EU, US and China have signed an agreement to mark the next stage to develop a 5,000MW transmission wind energy highway from Ireland to the UK. A memorandum of understanding (MOU) has been signed to complete a pre-feasibility study for the financing, construction and operation of the “ground breaking” electricity transmission system, which will export large-scale wind energy generated from 2017.

The companies involved are National Grid, which owns and manages energy networks in the UK and US; REN (Redes Energéticas Nacionais) Portugal’s transmission and system operator concessionaire, which is working in association with the State Grid Company of China, the largest electricity transmission company in the world. Irish wind and solar developer Mainstream Renewable Power is leading the export project.

Mainstream Renewable Power launched the Energy Bridge in June this year and has already secured an offer for 5,000MW of grid connection to the UK. The company is currently engaging with landowners in the midlands of Ireland to secure the land required to start constructing the first 1,200MW phase of the project with the aim of supplying this 1.2GW of wind energy to the UK by 2017.

Mainstream’s chief executive Eddie O’Connor, said: “This is a major milestone in our plan to start delivering renewable energy to the UK from 2017. We are now putting a team of experts together in order to conduct comprehensive feasibility studies and a business plan. This will be the precursor to the companies forming a joint venture to develop, build, finance, own and operate the system. This has never been done anywhere in the world and Mainstream is very excited to be leading such a ground breaking project.”

Rui Cartaxo, chief executive of REN, added: “REN believes this MOU sets the ground for the study of a potentially groundbreaking infrastructure for the future of European energy highways.”