British bureaucrats have drawn up radical contingency plans to keep the lights on in Northern Ireland—which relies on a shared energy market with the Irish republic—in the case of a “no-deal Brexit,” the Financial Times reported last week.
The government could bring military generating equipment from as far away as Afghanistan and place it on barges in the Irish Sea in the worst-case scenario, according to a civil service document whose contents were described to the FT.
“We have made good progress on this and a number of other issues during recent negotiations,” a government spokesperson told the paper. “However, as a responsible government, we will continue to prepare for all scenarios, including the highly unlikely outcome that we leave the EU without any deal next March.”
Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland have operated a single electricity market since 2007 within the framework of the Internal Energy Market, a key component of the E.U.’s single market.
Besides the immediate risk of black-outs, a failure to reach an agreement on the SEM would put a great deal of hard work in jeopardy.
The grid operators on either side of the border, System Operator Northern Ireland and EirGrid, are in the process of rolling out new auction, clearing and settlement mechanisms to bring their market into line with those elsewhere in the E.U.
The “go-live” date for the new wholesale market has already been pushed back from May 23 to Oct. 1, although this was blamed on problems with central computer systems rather than Brexit.