Government urged by Irish Wind Ireland to develop offshore wind industryLeigh Mc Gowranon April 15, 2022 at 13:19 Silicon RepublicSilicon Republic


The representative group for the Irish wind industry has called on the Government to take increased measures to help develop Ireland’s offshore wind farms.

Wind Energy Ireland said yesterday (14 April) said in its new report that the Government should bring together departments, key state agencies and industry groups to boost Ireland’s renewable energy industry, which could revitalise coastal communities and help boost the economy.

Wind Energy Ireland CEO Noel Cunniffe said: “With the right approach, through a concerted effort between industry, Government and coastal communities, we can build a whole new industrial sector, supporting regional development, creating thousands of jobs and driving sustainable and inclusive growth in Ireland.”

During the organisation’s annual conference which took place this week, Cunniffe said “the technical debate is over” as Ireland has the energy, technology and investment to create a decarbonised electrical system by 2035.

“Ireland has some of the best wind energy resources in the world,” Cunniffe added. “The sooner we can build the new wind farms, on and offshore, the sooner we will not only decarbonise this country but be able to export clean power to help cut carbon emissions across Europe.”

Last month, Cork Chamber CEO Conor Healy made a plea for Ireland to capitalise on the economic opportunity that offshore wind energy poses for the country.

RWE investment plans

Meanwhile, German energy group RWE announced a plan to invest €1.5bn into Ireland over the next eight years, to help the country reach its net zero ambitions.

The energy group said it is undertaking long-term investments in wind and battery storage projects across Ireland, to grow a renewables business across a portfolio of technologies. RWE plans to invest the €1.5bn into its current project that are being developed.

Speaking at the Wind Energy Ireland conference, RWE Ireland country chair Cathal Hennessy said renewable energy will play a key role in delivering energy security for the Irish economy.

“But this will only happen if the correct policy frameworks are in place and adequate resources are available within key areas such as planning and energy provision,” Hennessy said.

Last May, RWE selected Bangor Erris in north Mayo as its first site to test the potential of airborne wind energy technologies.

Challenges ahead

Wind Energy Ireland noted several “significant challenges” that could impact Ireland’s ability to create an effective offshore wind industry, such as skill shortages and uncertainty around construction deadlines.

The organisation has called for the creation of an offshore renewable industry forum, led by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, to create an action plan to meet address key challenges facing the offshore wind industry.

This includes a review of the National Ports Policy to ensure Irish port infrastructure can support the construction of offshore wind farms.

“Only one port on the island – Belfast Harbour – is suitable to support the construction of an offshore wind farm,” Cunniffe said. “We urgently need investment and support for other ports to ensure they are ready for the opportunities that will come in developing offshore wind for this decade and beyond as we deliver on the huge potential of floating wind energy off our south and west coasts.”

Cunniffe said supply chain issues have to be addressed in order for offshore wind farms to develop a green economy in Ireland and deliver a “just transition for coastal communities”.

“If we fail to act now we will still see these wind farms built, but we will have failed to maximise the opportunity for Irish workers and businesses to build wind farms off our coasts and, eventually, to compete internationally as the world turns more and more to renewable energy in the years to come.”

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