February 22, 2022

Offshore wind believed to be critical in delivering energy security to Ireland

Offshore Wind Ireland

Micheál Martin of Taoiseach recently announced at the One Ocean Summit that the offshore wind industry is critical in reducing energy vulnerability in Ireland. Considering various geopolitical challenges across Europe, one possible challenge facing Ireland is the continued dependence on fossil fuels. 

The meeting hosted by the French President Emmanuel Macron included several measures highlighting maritime ecosystem protection and enhancing the governance of our oceans. Martin explains that one way of eliminating this dependence on fossil fuels is by developing offshore wind, especially offshore floating wind systems and accelerating green hydrogen storage facilities.

Martin also highlights that it is critical to remember that any development in the offshore wind industry happens in collaboration with coastal communities and other relevant groups to ensure they are a part of these new opportunities.

The summit included representatives from coastal regions in Europe, Africa and Asia. During the initial discussions, Taoiseach emphasised Ireland’s investment into maritime vessels, including their state of the art multi-purpose research vessel, Tom Crean, which is due to be completed this year. 

New projects like this display Ireland’s accelerated transition towards offshore wind and its importance in contributing to its climate targets. Ireland’s maritime areas are approximately seven times the size of its landmass, and the mix of shallow and deeper waters provides considerable opportunities for developing a combination of fixed structures and floating wind turbine technology.

At the recent Irish Renewable Energy Summit in Dublin, SSE Renewables urged the government to increase its 2030 offshore wind targets. Maria Ryan, the director of SSE Renewables, stated that offshore wind represents a vital tool in addressing the climate challenge. Constructing offshore wind sites can strengthen Ireland against potential geopolitical impacts, reduce the dependency on fossil fuels and protect customers from rising gas prices. 

Reaching the current 5GW target is critical, but Ryan and other representatives feel the figure should be more ambitious. Ryan highlights that through her experience, it can take close to 10 years to develop an offshore wind project, from start to finish. While there has been considerable progress, there is a sense of urgency in maintaining momentum and utilising all the resources available to ensure Ireland reaches the 2030 targets.

SSE Renewables is developing three offshore wind projects, including the Arklow Bank Wind Park 2 situated off County Wicklow. The three projects combined will have a collective capacity of a little over 2GW, enough to provide energy for over 2 million homes in Ireland and offset nearly 2 million tonnes of carbon every year.

The One Ocean Summit introduced by President Macron represents a call for action for nations worldwide to protect our oceans. President Macron hopes that leaders will make agreements and work towards a transparent global treaty for our oceans. Ireland is part of the EU Atlantic Strategy, with France, Spain and Portugal.