The Government must match the momentum behind offshore wind with policy action if its 2030 climate targets are to be achieved.
That was the key message from today’s Offshore Wind Conference, held by the Irish Wind Energy Association in Dublin.
The conference heard that “tremendous” progress has been made with regard to offshore wind over the past 18 months, but that major infrastructure obstacles remain towards achieving the prevalence of that energy.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar recently acknowledged that Ireland has been a “laggard” in terms of reaching its mandated EU targets regarding renewable energy.
Currently, Ireland is the sixth worst country on the planet in terms of pollutant generation per capita.
Offshore wind has exponentially greater power-generating potential than the onshore variety, which already has gained huge levels of penetration across the country over the past 20 years.
Ireland remains the only European country with an Atlantic coastline with no significant offshore wind platforms in place.
“There’s a clear signal in the Climate Action plan that Government recognises what offshore can actually deliver,” said David Connolly, chief executive of the IWEA this morning.
“But it’s really urgent that it happens as soon as possible, because in the lifetime of an offshore wind projects, 10 years is nothing, it’s just around the corner,” he added.
Mr Connolly added that 2025 is a “reasonably good estimate” regarding the earliest that the most-advanced of Ireland’s nascent offshore projects might be delivered. All of those projects, which number roughly 15, are off either the east or southeast coast of the country.
The key infrastructure that will be required in order to deliver offshore technology was discussed at length at the conference, in particular the space and mechanics necessary at the individual ports serving the projects.
Mr Connolly said that from that point of view Dublin will not be a key port, due to a lack of space, while Rosslare was mentioned as a more likely location in terms of accommodating the ships and equipment involved.