‘Huge potential’ for floating wind energy in Ireland

'Increased interconnection to European grids needed' 
‘Huge potential’ for floating wind energy in Ireland

Offshore wind energy could provide 'huge opportunity' for Ireland. Picture: Gareth Fuller, PA Wire. 

Floating offshore wind turbines offer “huge potential” for the decarbonisation of Ireland’s energy and for the Irish economy overall, according to Professor Andrew Keane, Director of UCD Energy Institute, who was speaking ahead of the global climate summit and the Dublin Climate Dialogues, which takes place tomorrow and Thursday.

The Dialogues seeks to scale up ambition in the run up to the COP26 Summit and will bring together senior government representatives from the US, China, Europe, UK and the UN along with high-profile business representatives and leading economists to forge a declaration on how to turn net-zero pledges into concrete energy policies, and the actions that need to be adopted.

Meanwhile, Professor Keane pointed to how developing more offshore wind farms can help Ireland meet its target of net zero emissions by 2050.

However, he warned, this country will need “increased interconnection” to European power grids to capitalise on the potential offered by such wind farms.

“The west coast of Ireland has some of the highest average wind speeds in Europe, creating huge potential for the development of offshore wind farms,” added Professor Keane.

“The development of floating offshore wind technologies also allows us to access areas with deeper water, such as the Atlantic coast.

“Ireland has a massive opportunity here to become a key renewable energy producer and exporter – but we need to act now.

“We need to be able to deliver the energy from where it is produced - remote sea areas - to where it is used.

“Interconnected grids will be vital to achieve this.

“If we are producing more energy than can be consumed by the Irish market, we need access to European grids to ensure the transfer of energy.

“We also need to ensure we have an established route to market for excess energy.

“If Ireland is to meet its emissions targets, significant electrification of heating and transport is required – and wind has the potential to generate this electricity.

“There is also potential for offshore wind farms to produce green hydrogen, a renewable energy solution that is suitable for hard industry sectors, such as aviation, freight transport and cement, where electrification isn’t a viable option.” 

Action 

COP26 will take place in Glasgow later this year, and will focus on the acceleration of action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

“Change will not happen overnight, and - as we have seen with electric vehicles - it can take a long time to put the necessary infrastructure in place,” Professor Keane continued.

“International collaboration, political will and financial support will be crucial.

“That is why COP26 needs to deliver clear and ambitious targets with a strong implementation framework to ensure governments can work together to deliver the required infrastructure.

“There is a huge economic opportunity for Ireland as a major exporter of energy, either through electricity interconnection or green hydrogen.

“But we need to act fast to capitalise on this potential, and to ensure our long-term decarbonisation.”

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