Out-Law News 2 min. read

Ireland’s offshore wind industrial strategy highlights its sector-leading potential

The Irish government’s new industrial strategy document for the offshore wind sector recognises Ireland’s significant potential to be a leading European producer of offshore wind energy, while increasing Ireland’s energy security, a renewable energy expert has said.

Released by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, ‘Powering Prosperity – Ireland’s Offshore Wind Industrial Strategy’ (102-page / 3713KB PDF) seeks to make the most of the 420,000 square kilometre exclusive economic zone extending 320 kilometres off the Irish coast.

Focusing on actions to be taken in 2024 and 2025, the strategy covers 40 actions across four core areas which aim to maximise the economic benefit of Ireland achieving its offshore renewable targets. In particular, it recognises that development of an offshore wind energy industry and supply chain as a necessity for Ireland to become a destination for further foreign direct investment (FDI) to complement its domestic capabilities, creating opportunities both at home and overseas.

The four core areas set out in the strategy are offshore wind supply chains, research, development and innovation, future demand and end uses for renewable energy, and balanced regional economic development opportunities.

Notable actions include entry into a memorandum of understanding between transmission system operator EirGrid, government business development agency Enterprise Ireland and FDI agency IDA Ireland, to provide a framework for strategic cooperation between these entities on the development of offshore wind energy.

Also included as an action is the establishment of the Offshore Wind Centre of Excellence (OWCE) which would enable key offshore wind energy stakeholders such as government agencies, education institutions and offshore wind energy supply chain businesses to access new technologies and further collaborate to improve the offshore wind sector’s competitiveness. The strategy identifies floating offshore wind and digital issues as areas the OWCE is likely to focus on.

Additional actions are the study of green energy industrial parks and their potential for co-locating large scale renewable energy generation infrastructure technology, the provision of one-to-one assistance supporting change in offshore wind supply chain companies, and the creation of strategic partnerships with other countries enabling cooperation and knowledge transfer in supply chain development.

The strategy also aims to possibly extend the €500 million Growth and Sustainability Loan Scheme and explore other possible alternative funding schemes or initiatives that might support the growth of the offshore wind supply chain.

Alongside these actions, the strategy will look to agree actions to deliver on skills priorities for achieving offshore wind energy targets, and assess the potential for accelerating the development of a West Coast Designated Maritime Area Plan (DMAP). It will also examine the cost and viability of initiating floating offshore wind projects in the anticipated DMAP, as part of the government’s aim to support the development of the sector.

Garrett Monaghan, a renewable energy expert at Pinsent Masons, said: “Delivery of the Irish offshore sector requires committed and sustained co-operation across government and state bodies, and needs to be insulated from political and economic cycles.”

“Ireland does not have a history of issuing industrialisation strategies. The publishing of a dedicated offshore wind strategy is significant and deliberately and properly intended to coincide with related core Irish and EU policies, including the Future Framework,  hydrogen and the energy security needs identified in REPowerEU,” he said.

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