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Energy Union
and Northern Seas

Energy Union is a drive by the EU to reduce EU reliance on energy imports and to improve the interconnection of European energy grids up to and beyond 2030. This is an add-on to the existing legally binding 2020 renewable energy targets for which Ireland will need to install 1000 MW of offshore wind for domestic purposes.

Ireland, once it has satisfied its 2020 targets, will see the effects of Energy Union in two ways;

1. Further post-2020 offshore wind in the Irish Sea
2. Increased electricity interconnection with mainland Europe.

The new Renewable Energy Directive is expected to complement Energy Union by establishing a 27% (at least) EU target for renewable energy consumption and by requiring member states to support all renewable energy technologies available to them. It is expected that Ireland will meet or exceed the 2030 target by using the abundant renewable energy resources available to it. The directive also states that the 2020 targets are the starting point for a linear trajectory to 2030 and that the trajectory must be linear from 2018.

EU Commission Vice President for Energy Union, Maros Sefcovic, has stated that his preferred vehicle for the delivery of Energy Union around the North and Irish Seas is the Northern Seas Countries Offshore Grid Initiative also known as “Northern Seas”. Ireland is a signatory to the latest strengthening of this initiative. It is clear from this declaration that offshore wind will be a key element of the Northern Seas programme in the coming years. Ireland will be expected to play its part by further developing its very large offshore wind resource, both for domestic purposes and for the greater aim of Energy Union.

However, this will necessarily be preceded by the initial development of the Irish offshore wind resource for 2020. NOW Ireland estimates that 1,000 MW of Irish offshore wind energy will be required for Irish 2020 EU targets.