Fianna Fáil TD and European Parliament election candidate Barry Cowen is calling on the government to “fast-track” the development of 37GW (gigawatts) of energy production through offshore wind energy developments by 2030.

Cowen – who is currently a TD for Laois-Offaly, and is aiming to be an MEP for Ireland Midlands–North-West – says that the current offshore energy target for 2030 of 7GW (through 5GW of wind energy itself and 2GW of green hydrogen, which is also produced by offshore developments) is “far from ambitious”.

He is calling on the government to designate more sea areas to offshore wind, claiming Ireland has the “potential of becoming the offshore renewable energy powerhouse of Europe”.

Cowen made the call after meeting with representatives of Source Galileo, a Norwegian renewable energy company. He said that the meeting “reaffirmed” his view that Ireland’s 2050 target of 37GW of offshore renewable energy should be moved forward to 2030.

“Significant funding is available from the European Commission to help Ireland accelerate the process of designating sea areas, awarding licences, and approving renewable energy projects,” Cowen said.

He added: “The government must act immediately to secure this funding to help Ireland improve its energy security, to reduce energy prices and become a major value energy exporter.”

According to the Fianna Fáil TD, Ireland is not moving fast enough to designate sea areas for offshore wind energy development, with the result that Ireland is “being left behind” by other European countries who have set more ambitious targets.

“The UK is the world leader. It already has 14GW operational and is aiming to have 50GW operational by 2030… Norway will have identified 35GW [in] sea areas by the end of 2025.

“Ireland has the best resources in the EU but our lack of ambition is the reason why global investors are now looking beyond Ireland to other countries,” Cowen claimed.

He added: “The development of offshore wind energy and the deployment of floating offshore wind technology is essential to helping Ireland to meet its binding climate change targets. Ireland is not on track to achieve any of these targets and is facing a compliance cost of €8 billion in the worst-case scenario.”

According to Cowen, there is an “urgent need” to expediate the definition of sea areas and the planning process for the development of offshore wind energy.

“Ireland’s sea area is seven times its landmass, with an abundant supply of Atlantic wind. We have a pivotal role to play in helping the EU to achieve climate change targets, to scale up offshore wind capacity, and to improve energy security,” he said.