The offshore renewable energy development plan, which I published last month, identifies an opportunity for Ireland to realise the potential of our offshore energy resources by increasing indigenous production of renewable energy, thereby contributing to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, improving the security of our energy supply and creating jobs in the green economy, especially in coastal communities where there are particular job creation challenges. The strategic environmental assessment that was carried out for the offshore renewable energy development plan found that it would be environmentally sustainable for 4,500 MW of offshore wind to be developed in Irish waters in the period to 2030. The development plan will provide the mechanism through which action across Government Departments and agencies to support the development of offshore renewable electricity generation can be fully co-ordinated in areas such as environmental monitoring, research and development, consenting procedures, infrastructure requirements and enterprise development. There will be potential for local job creation in construction, maintenance and the supply of materials and equipment, including offshore surveying, transportation and installation vessels and associated manpower. There will also be opportunities to develop new products across information technology, remote communications and software.
All relevant State agencies, particularly in the enterprise area, will have to co-ordinate their activities to ensure the employment potential of offshore projects is maximised. This opportunity has already been identified by IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland in their clean technology growth strategies. My Department and I will work with the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation to put in place an appropriately led and resourced programme to ensure domestic companies avail of local opportunities for a period and are well placed to explore opportunities to internationalise their operations. As highlighted in the offshore renewable energy development plan, the potential for the offshore wind energy sector to contribute to EU energy needs beyond 2020 and provide jobs has been recognised, notably in the European Commission’s blue growth study. Economic analysis carried out for the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland indicates that a level of three construction job years per MW of offshore wind deployed, along with 0.6 jobs per MW in ongoing operations and maintenance of offshore installations, can be achieved.