Irish diplomacy could reverse Britain’s exit from the EU energy alliance

Irish diplomacy could result in Britain rejoining an energy alliance with EU member states by the end of this year.

Environment Secretary Eamon Ryan met his UK energy counterpart Jacob Rees-Mogg in London today to discuss the move and other energy-related matters.

Britain’s return to the North Sea Energy Cooperation Agreement (NSEC) would help cement ties between Ireland and its nearest neighbor, on which it depends for gas supplies.

Britain left the alliance as a result of Brexit, but the eight remaining EU members and the ninth member, Norway, say they are ready to open the door again.

Ireland currently chairs the NSEC and last month brought all members together to agree on a rapid scale-up of offshore renewable energy development.

Mr Ryan, the meeting’s host, also urged greater cooperation on joint projects that connect offshore wind energy to interconnectors serving all neighboring countries.

A similar regulation already exists for gas. Pipelines connect Norwegian supplies to the UK and on to Ireland.

There were fears that the deal could be jeopardized not only by Brexit but also by the current energy crisis and Britain’s concerns about its own gas supplies.

Mr Ryan has tried to reassure that relations with the UK are good on the issue, but the repeat of the renewable energy deal and the UK’s return to the NSEC group would provide additional reassurance.

A spokesman for the Environment Department said Mr Ryan was joined in his meeting with Mr Rees-Mogg by UK Climate Secretary Graham Stuart and held talks on the forthcoming UN Cop27 climate change summit.

“It was a constructive working meeting to discuss the prospect of UK re-entry into the North Sea Energy Cooperation Agreement under the Irish co-presidency before the end of the year,” the spokesman said.

“The UK would join Norway and eight EU countries in working to expand offshore infrastructure supply chains and coordinate trade rules, grid expansion and the location of new wind farms.

“They also discussed the broader response to the energy crisis resulting from the war in Ukraine and preparations for November’s COP27.”

Earlier in the day, energy experts met in Dublin to discuss the ongoing energy crisis and its impact on efforts to achieve zero-carbon generation.

ESB chief executive Paddy Hayes said the targets hadn’t changed and the goal is still to quintuple the carbon intensity of electricity by 2030 – from 300 grams per kilowatt hour to about 66 grams.

But he said while the crisis made the need for decarbonization all the more obvious, it was also a more difficult task that would require massive investments at a time when the cost of living was soaring.

“It’s a really complex and challenging time for the energy sector. It is a particular challenge for our customers, especially given that the outcome remains so uncertain,” he said.

dr Brenda Boardman of Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute warned that the current energy and livelihood crisis will last “not months, but years”. Irish diplomacy could reverse Britain’s exit from the EU energy alliance

Fry Electronics Team

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