Still in the fallout of Brexit, it’s unclear how the UK’s relationship with the EU will change over the coming months and years. While Ireland is a member of the EU in its own right, that doesn’t mean it remains unaffected by the UK’s decision to leave.
According to data compiled by the EU’s statistics body, Eurostat, Ireland is more reliant on imported energy than almost every other country in the EU. At the moment, Ireland receives most of its energy supply through Scotland and the Corrib gas field. Following Brexit, it’s unclear how this service will be maintained, which could leave the Ireland with a 20% deficit for electricity generation. Furthermore, following the 2009 gas crisis, EU regulations now provide for disaster relief across Europe through the sharing of resources between Member States in an energy crisis. With the UK’s departure and no gas pipe linking Ireland to Mainland Europe this safety net is potentially removed.
Following Brexit, in the short-term Ireland’s energy supply could be put at greater risk during an emergency situation, and new UK/EU import tariffs seem inevitable, potentially increasing pricing.
Linking Ireland’s energy directly to mainland Europe through an interconnector to France is already part of a long-term EU strategy. As well as securing Ireland’s electricity supply, it will make it possible for the country to deploy more wind-powered energy generation technologies with the aim to export the power generated back to mainland Europe.
Following the result of the referendum, Denis Naughten, Ireland’s Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, issued a statement saying that a full assessment would be undertaken to review the issues associated with the country’s energy supply. The assessment will, “…include security of supply issues, taking account of current interconnection arrangements, and cooperation with the UK generally with regard to stocks of fuel. It will also include cost implications and preferences for any new, post-Brexit arrangements between Ireland and the UK, recognising that this will form part of any market access discussions in the EU context.”