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North Sea Grid progress

03/12/2010

Scotland will be at the heart of new plans agreed today to deliver a North Sea offshore grid that interconnects European electricity networks.

Ten countries have committed to work together to identify and overcome the regulatory, legal, market, planning and technical issues involved in creating a North Sea grid.

An offshore grid will allow Scotland to export its vast renewable electricity surplus to the UK and Europe, help cut emissions and ensure the future security of European energy supplies.

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed today by 10 North Sea countries. It recognises Scotland's work on offshore grids and includes a specific commitment to take account of the award-winning ISLES project (Irish Scottish Links on Energy Study), which is currently assessing the opportunities of connecting Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in an Irish Sea and Atlantic coast grid.

Energy Minister Jim Mather said:

"Scotland is playing a key role in the development and deployment of an interconnected offshore grid in the North Sea, recently highlighted as a European Union priority project. A North Sea grid will plug Scotland in to export even greater amounts of the clean, green energy which Scotland's natural resources can produce in abundance.

"The Scottish Government is already part of a working group on North Sea grid connections and today's Memorandum notes the substantial co-operation and practical support of governments across Europe to build a North Sea grid. Scotland will play a full and active part in the development of this crucial piece of infrastructure that will further help us transform to a low carbon economy.

"I am pleased our leadership has been recognised through the commitment in the Memorandum to recognise our valuable work on the ISLES Project, which is already helping us to understand the specific and varied obstacles in developing sub sea grids. Our Good Practice in Wind project, which is working with partners from across Europe to enhance wind energy planning, will also play an important role. We will also continue to work with the European Union and the UK Government to solve some of the wider barriers to offshore renewables development and deployment."