‘Ireland has some of the best offshore renewable energy resources in Europe’ – Bruton

Ireland has some of the best offshore renewable energy resources in Europe at 900,000km² and because of its location at the Atlantic edge of the EU has more offshore energy potential than most other countries in Europe.

These were the sentiments expressed by the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, Richard Bruton, during Dáil proceedings last week when he was asked by Fine Gael’s deputy Bernard Durkan to what extent comparisons can be made between onshore and offshore wind-generated electricity.

Durkan also asked whether there will be adequate investment in the necessary infrastructure to ensure, what he described as, “a most expeditious transfer from fossil fuels to non-fossil fuels in the generation of electricity” and the subsequent reduction in the country’s carbon footprint.

In response to those questions the minister pointed to the “enormous potential” for Ireland to utilise its resources to generate carbon-free renewable electricity.

While onshore wind currently generates a substantial proportion of the country’s renewable electricity, comparatively, offshore is underdeveloped.

He continued: “A key component of the Climate Action Plan will be the development of offshore wind – the plan launched recently sets out the necessary policy measures to help meet our 2030 targets, cut our reliance on fossil fuels and put Ireland on a clear pathway to meeting our 2050 objectives.

“The plan includes a suite of actions to decarbonise the electricity sector and boost the quantity of renewable generation in order to meet our target of 70% of demand from renewable sources by 2030.”

Sustainable development

Minister Bruton then pointed to offshore renewable energy development and the plan that is in place to focus on that particular area.

“My department published the Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan (OREDP) in 2014 which sets out policy for the sustainable development of our abundant offshore renewable energy resources,” he continued.

An interim review of the OREDP was published in May and the Offshore Renewable Energy Steering Group – which oversees the implementation of the OREDP – is progressing the recommendations of the review.

“In order to realise Ireland’s ambition for large-scale development of offshore wind, significant progress is required on the three key pillars including development management process; grid development model; and route to market.”

The minister went on to say that he remained hopeful that Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) will provide 15% of the required generation to meet Ireland’s 2030 renewable electricity target.

“Together, the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) and PPAs will provide a route to market for the delivery of indicative volumes set out in the plan of at least 3.5GW of offshore renewable energy, up to 1.5GW of grid-scale solar energy and up to 8.2GW of onshore wind by 2030,” he concluded.

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