I thank the members of the committee for the invitation. I am delighted to join them for what is, as Mr. Coyle outlined, a pivotal Bill for the future of offshore wind energy in Ireland. My first slide is a brief introduction to IWEA. Approximately 150 organisations in both onshore and offshore wind energy are members of the association, covering everything from the first stages of a project, where a site is identified, all the way through to development, construction and energisation for the 30 or 35-year lifetime of the projects. A wide range of views, therefore, comes through IWEA.
Like Mr. Coyle, I want to emphasise what this means for Ireland, in terms not just of the economy, which he highlighted well, but also of our pivotal climate action ambitions. I might take the programme for Government as my starting point. It contains a 5 GW target for 2030 for our domestic climate action. To put that in context, that target has the potential to save more carbon emissions over the next decade than that of any other solution that Ireland has available to it in any sector. That relates not just to electricity but to heat, transport and agriculture. That is the significant of what the resource has to offer. There is more carbon-saving potential than that of any other solution.
The other ambition is the 30 GW target. This is not just an opportunity for Ireland; it is a responsibility to help decarbonise Europe's energy system. We are in an extremely luxurious position, with more renewable electricity than we know what to do with. Very few countries in Europe can boast that benefit. We have to develop this renewable electricity resource to help Europe decarbonise its energy system. Europe will need hundreds of gigawatts of renewable electricity, so the 30 GW figure is just the start of what will be needed. That means there is a significant role for our offshore resource in decarbonising both our energy system and Europe's and, as Mr. Coyle noted, that creates opportunity. There is a considerable opportunity for Ireland, in respect of jobs, investment and industry, to build what could be a brand new pillar of our economy. These countries need it and we have it, and it will be needed rapidly over the coming decades. We conducted a study examining the job creation potential for the original 3,500 MW target in the climate action plan, which showed that thousands of jobs were available for that. If we achieve these programme for Government targets, there will be tens of thousands of direct jobs. I wanted to give the committee a sense of the opportunity and the climate action contribution that offshore wind can make.
My next slide might give a sense of the status. Reflecting that significant resource, our members are actively developing more than 15 GW around our coast, but they are stuck waiting for the Bill to be passed because planning is the first step in the development of large-scale infrastructure. A project cannot proceed down the nine-year path that Mr. Coyle mentioned without planning permission first. That means that if these projects do not have planning by 2025 at the latest - this is dead-end territory - they cannot be online by 2030. What we have is a significant resource; what we do not have is time. We are really short on time. I hope I have given a sense of the urgency and importance of the Bill.
My next slide will give a flavour of the granular level. Of course, this all comes back to the day-to-day of implementation. At a granular level in respect of the Bill, we submitted a position paper in advance of the meeting that goes into detail about a number of aspects of the Bill that could be improved. I will draw out the top three that members raised with us, namely, design envelope flexibility, streamlining and milestones for the maritime area consent. I will give a quick flavour of each of these and we can go into more detail on them later in the meeting.
Design envelope flexibility is an approach that was used in the UK as it rapidly expanded its offshore sector. When consent is granted, it can be four or five years before construction begins. During that time, there can be significant developments on the technology front. Accommodating those developments when the construction phase is reached can really help to reduce the costs of developing offshore wind. In this consenting regime under marine planning and development management, we will advocate for a similar approach where there is some flexibility to adjust based on the technology developed between the time when planning is granted and construction begins.
The streamlining aspect goes back to the urgency issue. Any way in which we can make this more efficient would be greatly welcomed by our members, due to that lack of time. There are a number of examples in our position paper to illustrate how that could be done. One is that when planning is applied for, it could really help if there was the option to apply to one consenting body for all aspects of the project rather than having to divide it into multiple applications. Having that option could be very useful to save time for many projects.
The final aspect I raise, milestones for maritime area consent, was raised by many members and arose at Tuesday's meeting. We do not want people hoarding seabeds when they are allocated to them and, therefore, we very much support having milestones to demonstrate progress, although a bit more detail is required as to what those milestones would be. As a word of caution, in respect of our terrestrial planning, as well as the milestones, there is a period of five to ten years to develop the project. We think that period should be accommodated in some other ways. For example, if planning is refused on the first application, it may be very possible to fix the issue that was identified, reapply and get planning permission the second time. That would prevent a project having to go all the way back to ground zero and starting again, and could be accommodated in the Bill.
There are many more examples and details in our paper. I hope I have given a flavour of the importance of what is happening here, the opportunity that is available and the urgency we believe is necessary to ensure we capture this resource available to us.