The primary function of our state ports is to facilitate maritime transport which is the most important means of connecting Ireland to international markets, accounting for more than 90% of Ireland’s international trade, in volume terms. At the same time, it is recognised that there is a pressing need for Ireland to have the port capacity in place to exploit the opportunities presented by Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE), with the Programme for Government targeting a capacity of 5 GW of offshore wind energy by 2030 and 30GW thereafter of floating offshore wind power in deeper waters in the Atlantic.
The Department of Transport in conjunction with the Irish Maritime Development Office is currently carrying out an assessment on the options for our ports to facilitate the ORE sector and assist Ireland achieving its emission reduction targets.
As part of endeavours to maximise EU funding, the Department engaged extensively with other Member States and the Commission advocating for inclusion of funding for ORE required port infrastructure under TEN-t and CEF and successfully obtained changes to the CEF criteria. This is significant and means that EU funding of port infrastructure for ORE will now be allowed under the CEF 2021-2027.
The first call for transport projects under new CEF programme is now open. The call makes €4bn funding available for transport infrastructure project. Similar calls are expected in 2022 and 2023. While these are competitive processes, and typically oversubscribed, successful applicants can obtain funding of up to 50% of eligible costs for studies and up to 30% of infrastructure works costs.
As a Comprehensive Port on the TEN-T Network, Rosslare Europort is eligible to apply for CEF funding and have indicated to the Department their intention to apply for this funding. The current call opened on the 16th September with a closing date of 19th January 2022. The Department of Transport is engaging with potential applicants to assist, where appropriate, in applying for this funding.
The Department also held an open information day on 21st October 2021 for potential applicants. The Commission and the European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency presented as did one of the State Port Companies having been a successful applicant for funding for port infrastructure previously. There was a high level of attendance from interested parties seeking to make applications.