Ireland is currently “not on track” to hit its 2030 offshore renewable energy target.

Wind Energy Ireland CEO Noel Cunniffe, speaking today (Tuesday, September 21) at the annual offshore wind energy conference, said that unless urgent action is taken over the next 12 months, there will not be enough time to build the offshore wind farms Ireland needs to meet its 2030 offshore wind generation target.

Wind Energy Ireland also published a new report – Twelve months to deliver offshore wind energy – which tracks the government’s progress and sets out a series of urgent recommendations to accelerate the development of offshore renewables.

The Programme for Government commits to the development of at least 5,000MW of offshore wind energy – approximately seven to 10 wind farms – off the east and south coast of Ireland by 2030.

There is currently only one wind farm off the coast of Ireland, Arklow Bank, with a capacity of 25MW.

Running out of time

With less than nine years to reach the target set in the Programme for Government, Noel Cunniffe said:

“We have a strong pipeline with more than 20,000MW of offshore wind energy in various stages of development. 

“We have the resources, the technology and the expertise. We know the target is achievable. But these projects will take time to build and we are fast running out of time.

“For us to deliver we need to decarbonise Ireland’s electricity supply we need a robust marine planning system, a much stronger electricity grid and a firm date for the first offshore renewable electricity auction.”

According to Wind Energy Ireland, the seven urgent actions that government, system operators and other state agencies need to take include:

  • The Maritime Area Planning Bill must be passed before the end of the year and amended to allow wind farms to adopt a flexible design approach and to ensure enough projects can apply for planning;
  • Resources need to be invested in An Bord Pleanála, National Parks and Wildlife Service, EirGrid, ESB Networks and the Commission for Regulation of Utilities;
  • A firm date must be given for the first offshore wind energy auction, which had been due this year;
  • EirGrid’s grid development strategy, due before the end of the year, must have strong political and public support right across Irish society.