The Programme for Government commits to the achievement of 5GW of offshore wind by 2030 and the development of a longer-term plan to potentially take advantage of up to 30GW of offshore floating wind power in our deeper Atlantic waters.
These ambitious targets will require investment of tens of billions of euro in Ireland’s offshore renewable energy sector, which will deliver considerable benefits to coastal communities in terms of high-value jobs, and indigenous supply chains. A cross-departmental Offshore Renewable Energy Top Team, chaired by my Department, is in the process of being established to capture these wider economic and business opportunities.
The significant role for regional ports in development of Ireland’s offshore renewable energy sector, and the need for investment in port infrastructure, will also benefit local coastal communities through employment and commercial opportunities. A review of national ports policy in 2021 by the Department of Transport will consider the required port infrastructure development to facilitate Ireland’s future offshore renewable energy sector.
There is an additional requirement within the Renewable Energy Support Scheme that offshore windfarms establish Community Benefit Funds prior to project operation and for specified contributions to be made to these funds. My Department will also publish a Good Practice Principles Handbook by July 2021, providing guidance on the management of Community Benefit funds, to ensure community participation in fund decision-making. This handbook will firmly establish local community participation in fund decision-making.
In addition to enabling Ireland reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to meet international decarbonisation obligations, and providing employment opportunities in the green economy, development of an indigenous offshore energy sector will benefit all Irish citizens through enhanced security of energy supply and reduced exposure to imported fossil fuel prices.