Irish Wind Energy Association chief executive Dr David Connolly has called for greater urgency from the government in the country and across the political system to support the development of offshore wind energy
Dr Connolly was speaking at the second National Offshore Wind Energy Conference earlier this week.
He noted that Ireland currently only has a single offshore windfarm but there is an estimated 4.5 GW of offshore wind energy ready to be developed off the country’s east coast.
Dr Connolly said, “Our industry is ready, willing and able to deliver the 3.5 GW of offshore wind energy by 2030 required in the Climate Action Plan.
“But there is uncertainty about whether the legislative and policy changes needed to ensure offshore wind is harnessed to power our homes, businesses and economy are happening fast enough.
“It may be more than 10 years to 2030 but that is a very short space of time to build an offshore wind industry from scratch and there is absolutely no time to waste.”
The conference, attended by nearly 200 people working in Ireland’s renewable energy industry, heard calls for action from the Government on four key priorities. This included the Marine Planning and Development Management Bill, which needs to be published before the end of the year and prioritised for passage through the Oireachtas.
Other priorities included the supply chain for offshore wind in Ireland, which requires urgent financial support to ensure the infrastructure and skills are in place to maximise local job potential.
The association said the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme needs to commence as quickly as possible to ensure offshore windfarms get the support they need to develop; and Ireland’s Grid Connections Policy must enable offshore windfarms to connect to the electricity grid.
Dr Connolly concluded, “The Government’s Climate Action Plan sets out a vision and a detailed set of actions for how offshore wind energy can be developed.
“But along with a vision we need a sense of urgency, not just from Government but from across the political system, to ensure targets set out in the plan are being met ahead of time.
“Minister Bruton’s clear commitment to tackling climate change needs to be matched with a determination to better the deadlines in the plan if we are to give ourselves a realistic chance of hitting our 2030 target to provide 70% of our electricity from renewables.”