Offshore renewables ‘critical’ if Ireland is to meet climate goals

Offshore renewable energy will be “critical” if Ireland is to meet its climate targets, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, Denis Naughten, has said.

The minister made the comment as he addressed a summit on ocean wealth in Galway yesterday (Thursday, June 28).

He indicated that his department is focused on using the natural resources that Ireland has in a sustainable manner to: drive change; transform rural Ireland; support employment; and to protect the planet for future generations.

Continuing, Minister Naughten said: “Two weeks ago I was at the European Council of Energy Ministers and I urged my ministerial colleagues to become as self-sufficient as possible in terms of energy within the European Union, focusing both on renewable energy and driving energy efficiency.

“This renewed focus is not just necessary to meet our climate targets or our Paris goals, but – from an economic perspective – to ensure that EU economies will grow in a long-term, sustainable manner.”

New opportunities

The minister explained that onshore wind has been the “single biggest driver” of renewable energy to date; however, the Government is reportedly focused on diversifying the energy mix out to 2030.

During his address, Minister Naughten said: “Technologies such as solar and offshore wind are becoming far more cost-effective and cost-competitive than they have been; there is significant interest now from developers in relation to developing offshore wind energy projects in Irish waters.

There are huge opportunities in the offshore sector and I believe that offshore renewables are critical if we are going to achieve our 2030 objectives.

“On June 14 last, an agreement was reached with the European Parliament on the new Renewables Directive and on a binding renewable energy target for the EU for 2030 of 32%.

“By then we expect to have 55% renewable electricity on the grid and – if you look at the technical challenges we have between now and 2020 to have 40% renewables on our electricity grid – you can see the challenge we are going to have to increase that to 55% by 2030 – but we are determined to do that.

“Meeting our 2030 ambition will be as much about opportunities as about challenges,” he added.

‘Enormous potential’

According to the minister, offshore renewable energy can: enable the generation of carbon-free renewable electricity; enhance security of supply; and also deliver green growth and jobs to the economy.

He believes that Ireland has “one of the best offshore renewable energy resources in the world” and that the country’s offshore wind resources bring “enormous potential”.

“The potential from the technological advances around the world in offshore wind and offshore renewables in the last 10 to 15 years is huge.

Realising this potential is a strategic and game-changing challenge; there are huge opportunities if we get it right.

“We see the development progressively taking place, initially in the Irish Sea – where there are already planning authorisations in place – the Celtic Sea and the Atlantic Ocean; but it’s not just wind, it is also wave as well.

“We in Ireland have been very much to the fore in relation to offshore renewable research, but we need to move from the learning by research to the learning by doing,” Minister Naughten concluded.