Renewable energy groups have urged the Government to better incentivise companies to invest in offshore wind projects in Irish waters.
The Government’s climate action plan, which was launched last week, targets an increase from 30% to 70% in the level of electricity coming from renewable sources by 2030. That target calls for four gigawatts of power coming from onshore wind farms by that date and 3.5 gigawatts coming from offshore farms.
The National Offshore Wind Energy Association of Ireland – or NOW Ireland – said more Government encouragement is needed by way of investing in physical infrastructure, such as port facilities, and smoothing the overall supply chain.
“It is clear from last week’s Climate Action Plan that the Government is bringing a real, and welcome, focus to bear on what needs to be done to support offshore wind energy,” said Justin Moran, head of public affairs at the Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA).
“The critical responsibility for policymakers is to make planning regulations and access-to-grid as straightforward as possible,” he said.
The call comes after the UK offshore wind industry announced it is in line for a £100m (€112m) boost aimed at spurring growth in the sector over the next ten years.
The UK’s industry and government-backed Offshore Wind Industry Council is to invest in companies along the whole supply chain and support companies wanting to export their services.
The move is part of the British government-backed sector deal that aims to encourage at least 30 gigawatts of offshore wind farms installed in the UK by 2050.
IWEA is carrying out a study to identify opportunities for Irish companies and find where investment is needed in terms of infrastructure and skills training. This is, according to Mr Moran, to ensure that offshore wind delivers “not just carbon-free electricity, but quality, skilled jobs in ports and coastal regions right around Ireland”.
“The development of offshore wind energy presents Ireland with an enormous opportunity to create jobs right along our coast. A KPMG report published last year estimated that 20,000 on and offshore jobs could be created by 2040,” he said.
“For a generation we have seen some of the world’s best offshore wind energy resources go unused. While other countries have forged ahead, using offshore wind energy as a core part of their transition to low-carbon economies, Ireland has fallen behind,” Mr Moran said.