Ireland’s offshore wind potential in European energy market

5 Nov 2010

The National Offshore Wind Association of Ireland (NOW Ireland) says the publication of the Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan comes as a welcome and vital step in helping Ireland achieve its potential to generate 5GW of energy from offshore wind.

Irish companies are already planning to develop 2.6GW of offshore wind energy, which will require investment of in excess of €8bn.

Speaking at the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) Pathways to 2050: International Conference, Mick McBennett, president, NOW Ireland, said that today was an important one for renewables in Ireland.

“Firstly, Minister (Eamon) Ryan clearly acknowledged the importance of technologies such as offshore wind and other developmental ocean energies in reaching our short-term targets. More than this though, he highlighted the real potential that these technologies have to turn Ireland from being among the most import-dependent energy systems in the world to one which can profit from supplying the energy needs of Europe.”

Mick McBennett NOW IRELAND

Ready for business

McBennett (pictured) added that Ireland needs to give clear signals that offshore wind is a serious proposition.

“We are talking to companies who want to invest in Ireland but who say they need clarity that Ireland is serious about offshore wind. We are sitting on an opportunity to build a multi-billion euro industry, supplying not only the €60bn Irish Sea market, but also a €250bn North Sea market.

“These offshore supply chains are being built from scratch and Ireland can be a big part of it, providing several thousand jobs in the process. It will be of great credit to the minister if he can ensure that the Irish Sea sector in particular has a significant Irish involvement. Announcements like today’s show potential investors that we are serious about this industry and about the jobs it will provide.”

Launching the report today at the SEAI conference, Ryan told delegates that Ireland needs to look beyond its short-term targets to figure out how it can achieve 2050 targets.

He said Ireland would need to examine how it can profit by providing the green energy to ensure Europe could achieve its climate change goals.

Ryan also highlighted work that the Government was doing at a European level and with the United Kingdom to link Ireland into a more connected regional grid. He said he would meet with the UK Energy Secretary Chris Huhne next month to work out a renewable energy trading agreement, indicating that he felt Ireland would be part of a bigger energy market within five years.

Speaking following today’s SEAI conference, McBennett referred to the head of the International Energy Agency, Nabuo Tanaka, and US Energy Secretary Dr Steven Chu, who both spoke at the event about the importance of offshore wind to Ireland’s renewable energy portfolio.

“Two of the most powerful policy makers in global energy recognised the critical role that offshore wind must play in Ireland. We cannot be complacent about any one technology – the renewables portfolio must include mature offshore wind technology, as well as promising ocean technologies,” said McBennett.

“We are informed that an application for an Offshore Wind Renewable Energy Feed in Tariff (REFIT) will be made by the Irish Government before Christmas. This is a powerful investment signal and will be heeded by the international investment community,” he concluded.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic