* UK, Ireland to study costs, projects to trade renewables
* Inter-governmental agreement could be signed early 2014
LONDON Jan 24 Ireland may start exporting
excess green electricity, mostly wind power, to Britain in a few
years after the governments sign a contract on Thursday to study
the potential of cross-border renewable energy trading.
The countries' energy ministers are to sign a memorandum of
understanding in Dublin, agreeing to assess the costs and
benefits of trading renewable energy, to look at potential
projects and to consider sharing renewable energy statistics.
"Making the most of the natural renewable resource available
around our islands could benefit the economies of both
countries," British Secretary of State for Energy and Climate
Change Edward Davey said in a statement.
Britain has an ambitious target to generate 15 percent of
its energy from renewable sources by 2020. Importing excess
green power from Ireland could help it meet that goal.
Ministers held preliminary discussions about the project in
June last year, and companies have since announced plans to
build wind farms and power networks to export green electricity
One such project is a 7 billion pound ($11.1 billion) scheme
to build 500 to 700 wind turbines in the Midlands of Ireland to
generate power for export to Britain.
The countries' plan to trade renewable power is subject to
the creation of an inter-governmental agreement, which Irish
Energy and Natural Resources Minister Pat Rabbitte said could be
signed in a year's time.
EU rules stipulate that each member state has its own
legally binding renewable energy target but that, after signing
inter-governmental agreements, nations can import green
electricity to meet their targets.
Britain will soon publish a separate study about its
potential to trade renewable energy with its neighbours, a
spokesman for the UK energy ministry said.
Britain's electricity market has two cable connections to
Ireland as well as interconnectors to France and the
Netherlands, while it and is studying building links to Norway,
Denmark and Belgium.
($1 = 0.6313 British pounds)
(Reporting by Karolin Schaps; editing by Jane Baird)