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LONDON (Reuters) - Britain should continue to participate in the European Union's energy market when it leaves the 28-nation bloc, energy minister Greg Clark told a parliamentary committee on Wednesday.
The British government wants to secure the best possible deal in all areas of Brexit negotiations with the EU related to energy matters, Clark told the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy committee.
"It is very much in our interest to continue to participate in the energy market and expand those interconnections, especially in Ireland," Clark said.
"I think it would be better if we continue (in it) and a bad thing if that were to be disrupted."
Britain imported 6 percent of its electricity via power links with France, Holland and Ireland in 2016, but is seeking ways to increase its power sources to help to replace ageing coal and nuclear plants set to close in the 2020s.
Clark emphasised that discussions with the EU were only just about to start but that he hopes plans for interconnectors with other EU and non-EU countries would continue and be extended.
"Our ambition is to go more into interconnection. If we want to have a smarter grid and bring on lots of different types of sources of power, interconnection is important for that," he said.
Several new electricity interconnectors with European countries are in development. If built, these could satisfy about 20 percent of Britain’s peak electricity demand by the early 2020s.
Another area of negotiation with the EU will be around Britain's role in Europe's Emissions Trading System (ETS), which charges power plants and factories for every tonne of carbon dioxide they emit.
In February the European Parliament's lead carbon policymaker said that Britain is unlikely to remain in the scheme after Brexit.
UK climate change minister Nick Hurd told the committee that Britain continues to play an active role in reforming the ETS.
"There are good reasons why we are in it, but I think the discipline of the Brexit process is that, as a government, we have the responsibility to look at the options," he said, adding that the government is analysing alternatives to the scheme.
Editing by David Goodman