LUXEMBOURG, June 7 (UPI) -- One day after signing a European commitment on offshore wind, the Irish government said it can only realize its true potential through regional collaboration.
"Ireland has the best offshore energy potential in Europe but we need to work with our colleagues across the EU to turn this potential into electricity," Irish Environment Minister Denis Naughten said in a statement emailed from Luxembourg.
Naughten's was among the nine signatures added to a declaration signed by members of the European Union that share a border with the North Sea. The members agreed that closer cooperation in avenues like grid connectivity could advance regional developments for offshore wind.
With a maritime acreage 10 times the size of its land mass, the Irish government said its region offers some of the best offshore renewable energy prospects in the world.
Onshore, Ireland since 2003 has installed approximately 150 wind farms with a total electricity capacity of around 1,700 megawatts. The government has said there might be enough wind energy on the electrical grid to meet 40 percent of the country's annual energy needs by 2020.
By 2050, Irish national guidelines call for renewable resources to overtake fossil fuels. Greenhouse gas emissions tied to the Irish energy sector would fall to zero by the end of the century under the scheme. All European member states are obligated to use renewable energy to meet 20 percent of their energy needs by the end of the decade.
"I want to ensure that we do all in our power to achieve our climate change targets in a sustainable cost effective manner in the shortest timeframe possible," Naughten said.
The European Commission said in a recent report that better connectivity and coordination in the regional offshore wind market could lead to up to $5.8 billion in savings.