The governments of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland commissioned a feasibility studying into creating an offshore interconnected electricity grid based on wind, wave and tidal generation (ISLES Project), which was part funded by the European Union Regional Development Fund.
The study was commissioned against the background of EU policy to provide competitive, sustainable and secure energy with a strategy aimed to increase the percentage of renewables in the EU energy mix to assist in the decarbonisation of the system. The results of the study has now been released.
It is also an objective that the internal market in energy be further developed to allow cross border energy flows through better interconnection, underpinning security of supply and transporting energy in a cost effective manner to increase consumer benefits across Europe.
Northern and Southern ISLES
The study focused on an initial 'ISLES Zone' stretching from the west coast of the Isle of Lewis down to the north coast of Northern Ireland and the North Channel; and further south into the Irish Sea along the east and west coast of Ireland. The maximum resource potential in this area is estimated to be in the order of 16.4GW.
In shaping the ISLES Project, a balance has been struck between ambition on one hand and on delivering early viability of the concept on the other. As a result, two ISLES concepts were developed to match technological resources currently available with the available onshore transmission network capacity and to explore the integration of multiple marine resources into a single offshore network.
It appears that a 'Northern ISLES' concept, comprising 2.8GW of offshore renewable generation and interconnection capacity, could be created on the south west coast of Scotland with additional resources on the north coast of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. It is suggested that this zone would be primarily connected at a single connection point at Hunterstown in Scotland with a maximum export capacity of 2.5GW and onshore connections at Coolkeeragh and Coleraine in Northern Ireland.
The 'Southern ISLES' concept considers a network and offshore generation along the east coast of Ireland. Shared capacity of 3.4GW of generation would be connected to the GB mainland and up to 2GW of interconnection would be created between the GB and Irish markets. In contrast to Northern ISLES, this concept comprises predominantly near-shore generation developments. The...