Ireland’s increased climate and energy ambition is reflected in the Government target to achieve 5GW of installed offshore wind generation by 2030. There is a further commitment in the Programme for Government to develop a longer-term plan to utilise the potential 30GW of offshore floating wind power in our Atlantic waters. The 5GW target will be primarily met through development of offshore renewable energy (ORE) in Ireland’s eastern and southern coastal regions. This reflects the suitability of water depths in these regions for deployment of conventional fixed bottom offshore wind turbines and existing electricity grid infrastructure to connect these projects to the onshore grid.
Subsequent cost-effective deployment of renewables in deeper waters off the west coast, to take advantage of stronger and more consistent wind speeds, should be increasingly feasible through future advances in floating turbine technology.
Development of the Maritime Area Planning Bill is being led by the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, with my Department providing input on provisions specific to ORE. The enactment of this Bill will provide a modern, up-to-date regulatory framework that will enable ORE developments beyond the limits of the current foreshore regime. The Bill completed Final Stage in the Dáil on 1 December 2021 and Second Stage in the Seanad on 7 December 2021, with enactment anticipated by the end of the year.
Work on a revised Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan (OREDP) has also been initiated by my Department. This will provide an evidence base for the identification of areas most suitable for the sustainable development of both fixed and floating wind, wave, and tidal technologies, and will include an assessment of other maritime activities and marine biodiversity setting out the path-way for the development of ORE beyond 2030. In tandem with the OREDP, a comprehensive analysis of long-term routes to market will be undertaken by my Department in 2022.