My Department is currently developing terms and conditions for the first offshore wind auction under the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (ORESS 1) to support the first phase of offshore wind development in Ireland. These proposed terms and conditions include a requirement for each successful project in ORESS 1 to headquarter its operation and maintenance facilities on the island of Ireland. As offshore renewable energy remains an emerging sector in Ireland, successful projects in ORESS 1 will also be required to complete a Project Delivery Plan Questionnaire, with particular emphasis on domestic supply chain development, to better inform Government policy and design of future ORESS auctions.
As referenced in the Climate Action Plan, a cross-Departmental Offshore Renewable Energy Team, chaired by my Department, is also being established to capture the wider economic and business opportunities associated with the development of offshore renewables in Ireland. This will be set up in conjunction with the Marine2040 groups to ensure consistency across the State maritime planning system. It will include the identification of supporting infrastructure and supply chain opportunities as Ireland’s offshore wind industry becomes established.
As part of this work, my Department has been working closely with the Department of Transport and the Irish Maritime Development Office to examine the potential to ensure that Irish ports are in a position to benefit from the offshore wind development programme. The Department of Transport, in conjunction with the Irish Maritime Development Office, has conducted an assessment of the options for Irish State ports to facilitate development of offshore renewable energy in Ireland, and will shortly publish an associated policy statement. The statement will outline the proposed strategy for the provision of infrastructure at ports to facilitate development and future operation of offshore renewable energy projects.
In addition, my Department has also been working with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, who are finalising plans to establish a Shannon Estuary Taskforce. This Taskforce will consider the potential of the Shannon Estuary in terms of regional economic development across transport and logistics, manufacturing, renewable energy and tourism, and will develop a strategy to achieve this potential in 2022.
The offshore renewable sector also has the potential to result in commercial and employment opportunities for Irish firms operating beyond Ireland. In this regard, my Department works closely with Enterprise Ireland, which has, over the last several years, developed the Irish Offshore Wind Cluster, comprising of over 60 Irish companies working in the sector abroad, with the view to transferring this expertise to the domestic market once established in Ireland.