Floating wind energy can transform Ireland into a European renewable energy superpower if the right policies are put in place to enable industry to start building floating wind farms in the 2020s.
This is the central finding of Revolution: A vision for Irish floating wind energy, published by Wind Energy Ireland, which sets out how floating wind farms can make Ireland a world leader in producing renewable energy and fighting climate change.
The Programme for Government contains a target for 5,000 MW of offshore wind energy by 2030 and, in the long-term, 30,000 MW off our western coast, which would enable us to power ourselves and to export enormous amounts of clean energy to Europe.
While most of the 2030 target will be delivered through existing fixed-bottom turbine technology, a proactive approach from Government is needed to ensure floating wind turbines are in the water before the end of the decade. This would unlock our floating wind potential and kick-start an entirely new industrial sector for Ireland.
Noel Cunniffe, CEO of Wind Energy Ireland, said:
“It is absolutely possible to have floating wind energy built and connected to the Irish electricity system by the end of the decade. We have a strong pipeline of projects waiting only for determined and coordinated action from Government.”
Revolution: A vision for Irish floating wind energy makes a series of recommendations to support the development of floating wind energy including:
Minister Peter Burke must amend the Maritime Area Planning Bill to enable floating wind energy projects to carry out essential environmental surveys outside the 12 nautical mile limit and ensure floating wind can contribute to Ireland’s 2030 offshore wind targets.
EirGrid must ensure that their new strategy for grid development, due out later this year, strengthens the grid on the western and southern coasts where most floating wind projects are located;
Minister Hildergarde Naughton must deliver strategic investment in our port infrastructure as soon as possible to enable our ports to be ready to build and maintain floating wind farms;
Minister Eamon Ryan must ensure that the offshore renewable energy auction planned for 2025 has a dedicated floating wind energy pot to support projects ready to deliver;
Minister Varadkar must put floating wind energy at the heart of a new industrial strategy for renewable energy backed by the strategic engagement of the IDA and Enterprise Ireland.
Noel Cunniffe continued:
“The long-term potential of floating wind energy is staggering. There is enough renewable energy off our southern and western coasts to not only meet Ireland’s needs but to also become a major contributor to decarbonising Europe’s energy supply. This is how we can become a true climate action leader.
“We can achieve this if the Maritime Area Planning Bill is strengthened and then passed through the Oireachtas as quickly as possible. The first generation of new, fixed-bottom, wind farms on our east coast can provide the launching pad to develop a new floating wind industry in Ireland.”
Most offshore wind farms are built using ‘fixed-bottom’ turbines where the base of the turbine is fixed to the seabed. But a turbine can also be mounted on a floating platform which is then secured to the seabed by mooring cables and anchors. These floating wind turbines can be deployed at much greater depths than fixed-bottom turbines.
Val Cummins is Managing Director of the Emerald Floating Wind project, a JV partnership between Shell and Simply Blue. She is also chairperson of Wind Energy Ireland’s Floating Wind Energy Committee.
Val Cummins said:
“Floating wind energy can make Ireland a world leader in the production of renewable energy, not only in the form of electricity, but also through the production of carbon-free fuels.
“Twenty years ago Ireland chose not to develop offshore wind energy, costing us an enormous economic opportunity and cementing our dependence on imported fossil fuels.
“We must not make the same mistake a second time. We have choices to make, and now is the time to make them. Ireland has an incredible marine resource, and development of floating wind, co-existing with sustainable fisheries and Marine Protected Areas, is the future.”