Ireland invests in large-scale wind plan: 'most exciting industrial opportunity in decades'

Ireland wants to become the world leader in offshore renewable energy (ORE). On May 1, the government published a large-scale wind plan for this purpose. The plan outlines the long-term ambitions of 20 GW by 2040 and 37 GW by 2050. Energy exports are also included in the planning process. The required €100 billion in investments have now been approved.

Plan-driven approach

An important part of the plans is 'The Future Framework Policy Statement for Offshore Renewable Energy', published by the Irish Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan. This large-scale wind plan includes 29 key actions to develop Ireland's plan-driven approach to offshore wind energy.

The policy forms the basis for Ireland's ambitious offshore targets and sets out the path Ireland will take to generate 20 GW of offshore wind energy by 2040, and at least 37 GW by 2050.

The plans include an economic opportunity analysis to encourage investment and maximize the financial and economic returns of offshore renewable energy to the state and local communities. It also explores the possibilities to export surplus renewable energy through interconnection, and to use surplus renewable energy for alternative energy products and services for international markets.

“Our offshore wind energy is potentially the largest domestic source of electricity that can replace volatile, imported fossil fuels. It represents our most exciting industrial opportunity in decades as we plan to power not only our own country, but also our surplus export energy to Europe.”
Eamon Ryan, Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications

Scale up

Ireland will scale up offshore wind energy after 2030, initially using fixed-bottom turbines for the south and east coasts. This approach is expected to generate 20 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind energy by 2040, more than three times the total electricity volumes generated in the state, according to Ryan. That will pave the way for Ireland to export surplus renewable energy to Britain and Europe.

According to the minister, larger floating turbines further out at sea will only be deployed once the technology is proven and competitive. But floatables will in due course become an important part of Ireland's renewable energy mix. Tidal and wave energy are also included.

Port development

The plans involve an amount of €100 billion, which has now been approved. The Green Party leader indicates that developers will invest more than €100 billion over the next 20 years, and that the amount now allocated by the state is intended for port development and strengthening the electricity grid.

The first ports to be expanded to support offshore wind development are expected to be in Cork and Rosslare. To facilitate wind projects on the west coast, Shannon-Foynes or another port along that coastline will be expanded.

In addition, the ports of Belfast and the UK ports on the Irish Sea are also likely to host six offshore fixed turbine wind farms delivering 5 GW by 2030. The building applications for these wind farms will probably be submitted this year.

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