Offshore wind projects due to compete in an auction next month still have no idea if any Irish ports will be available to construct the wind farms, the report states.

The Government must invest in ports in order to make them capable of developing offshore wind energy projects or risk seeing investment go elsewhere, according to a new report produced for Wind Energy Ireland by consultants Gavin & Doherty Geosolutions.

Failure to Invest in Ports

The study reveals that offshore wind projects, due to compete in an auction next month, still have no idea if any Irish ports will be available to construct the wind farms. This uncertainty will push up prices resulting in Irish electricity consumers paying more for their power for decades to come.

Expansion Plans of Irish Ports

Several ports, including Rosslare, Cork Dockyard, and Shannon-Foynes, have plans to expand their port infrastructure to be used to build offshore wind farms. However, these improvements will require significant amounts of investment.

Government Support is Vital

According to the report, support from the Irish Government would de-risk upfront investment and could plug any funding gaps. This support could be in the form of direct funding from the exchequer, a low-interest loan scheme or access to funding vehicles such as the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) and the European Investment Bank.

Case Studies Show No Issue with State Aid

The report found by looking at case studies that the issue of State aid is not a problem. “The Irish Government can choose to do this or it can choose not to,” said Paul Doherty, Executive Director of Gavin & Doherty Geosolutions.

The Importance of Building Offshore Wind Farms in Irish Ports

“We want to build Irish offshore wind farms in Irish ports,” said Noel Cunniffe, CEO of Wind Energy Ireland. “Our members – both ports and developers – are absolutely united on this. That is the best way to create jobs at home and to deliver offshore wind energy at the lowest possible price. But the Irish Government needs to want this as well.”

Risk of Missing 2030 Climate Targets

Without more ports capable of being used for building offshore wind projects, Ireland will either completely miss its 2030 climate targets or the wind farms will be built from ports outside of Ireland.

Recommendations for the Government

Today’s report recommends that ports, the offshore renewable energy industry, and State agencies be brought together under the Offshore Wind Delivery Task-force to identify solutions, including the possibility of designing an Irish Strategic Port Investment Model. It also suggests updating the National Ports Policy to enable the State to invest in port infrastructure for offshore renewable energy. While it also says that the Government could work with industry and the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund to support the development of port infrastructure for offshore renewable energy.

The report also recommends the establishment of a regulatory framework that encourages collaboration between the industry and ports, as well as a streamlined planning and permitting process for offshore wind projects.

In addition, the study suggests that the Irish Government should take steps to ensure that the necessary skills and expertise are available to support the development of offshore wind infrastructure.

“Offshore wind is a new industry for Ireland and we need to ensure that we have the skills and expertise required to develop it successfully,” said Mr Cunniffe.

“This means investing in training and education, as well as in research and development.”

The report concludes that offshore wind has the potential to be a major contributor to Ireland’s energy mix, and to help the country meet its renewable energy targets.

“Offshore wind has the potential to play a crucial role in Ireland’s transition to a low-carbon economy,” said Mr Doherty.

“However, in order to unlock this potential, the Irish Government must provide the necessary support to the industry and to ports, and ensure that the regulatory framework is in place to encourage collaboration and investment.”

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