The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources has said significant exports of wind energy to the UK are now unlikely to happen by 2020.

In January 2013, an inter-governmental agreement was signed regarding trade in green power between the two countries.

The latest development may have implications for planned wind farms in Ireland.

European Union states have mandatory targets in relation to use of renewable energy by 2020.

If one country has difficulties in reaching its goal, there is a provision to allow the purchase of green energy from elsewhere.

This led to a memorandum of understanding between the Irish and British governments in 2013 regarding the export of wind energy generated in Ireland.

The department said both countries have been working on the project since then.

However, it said that due to economic and regulatory issues, it is not now possible to achieve the stated aim of exporting wind energy to the UK by 2020.

Ongoing debate in Britain about how power is generated there is also thought to have delayed the process.

The department said a more long-term approach is now being taken regarding the potential for Ireland to provide supplies to the UK grid.

Minister for Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte said there is still a very long way to go in terms of policy and regulatory design decisions to be taken on the UK side.

He said given the pace the British government is progressing at, it does not appear to be realistic that the deadline of 2020 will be met.

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, the minister said there still decisions to be made on critical issues.