The prospect for the development of European offshore electricity transmission grid in the North and Irish Seas has moved a step closer with the signing of an agreement among nine European countries.

Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Denmark, Sweden, Ireland and the UK have all signed up to develop the grid, which would increase energy security in the region as well as optimise the use of offshore wind energy.

It would also help the EU to meet its renewable energy target for 2020.

The Declaration signed by the nine countries highlights the role offshore wind energy could play in meeting the EU’s 20-20-20 targets and the benefits an integrated offshore gird could bring in terms of security of supply and market integration. It also recognizes the complexity of developing an offshore grid.

The nine countries say that they will develop a strategic work plan in 2010 to coordinate the development of the grid, an idea that the European Commission has highlighted as being of strategic importance.

The Commission’s 2009 economic stimulus package contains EUR165 million for North Sea grid projects.