Irish offshore wind park investments have been put on hold by developers following the government’s introduction of stricter regulations on their locations. This policy change has led to the abandonment of significant investment decisions by at least two companies, according to Barry Kilcline, SSE Renewables’ Ireland head of offshore. The company has also spent millions of euros on a wind farm plan that is now uncertain.
The new rules pose a threat to Ireland’s target of building up to 7 gigawatts of offshore wind power by the end of the decade. These parks are critical to achieving the country’s broader objective of obtaining 80% of its energy from renewables and cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 51% over the same period.
Climate Minister Eamon Ryan asserts that the government’s strategy will “guide investment and decision-making” and work in tandem with a forthcoming network of Marine Protected Areas. However, many in the industry are apprehensive, warning that the policy change may discourage investment in the sector.
Over 30 gigawatts of offshore wind projects are currently under development, but only 4.4 gigawatts will be eligible to bid in the first Irish auction, which will commence next month. Investors are concerned that a significant portion of the remaining capacity may become unfeasible.
Wind Energy Ireland, the representative body, has cautioned members that it is aware of companies that have begun reassigning staff to projects outside of Ireland due to the policy alteration.
XELLZ, a Project Logistics Management company, operating its offshore operations under the name 24shore Ireland, and developing the Europort Business Park at Rosslare port, expressed concern about the Irish offshore wind development, but hopes that the port’s plans to extend its area with a new, reclaimed, offshore wind terminal of 50 acres will not be delayed. While the construction of the new terminal and business park will take time to finish, any delay resulting from the Irish government’s policy changes is unwelcome and may thwart the country’s wind energy ambitions.