Ireland is the only European Union country with an Atlantic coastline that is not developing its offshore wind resource, which is not only placing the country at an economic and competitive disadvantage, but also results in missing out on a large number of associated economic and social benefits, according to the latest report from KPMG.
The report looks at offshore wind being a key part of the solution for meeting the growing renewable energy demand in Ireland, and details on the sector’s economic and social opportunities for the country.
Discussing the growing electricity demand, KPMG referred to EirGrid’s analysis of various future energy scenarios, where the Irish transmission system operator estimated that the country’s total electricity requirement will increase by between 22% and 53% by 2030. This increased demand must come from renewable sources in order to satisfy both national and EU targets, as well as CSR agendas of large corporates and foreign direct investment, according to KPMG.
Meeting the future renewable electricity demand, while also meeting EU renewable targets, will require Ireland to deploy between 400MW – 700MW of new renewable generation capacity per year, against a historic onshore wind deployment rate of c.200MW per year. While solar and onshore wind can and will play a role, offshore wind is the only technology with the scale and deployment capacity to meet this demand in full, the report says.
Despite significant industry investment and activity over the past decade, and Ireland having one of the leading offshore wind resources in Europe, to date there has only been 25MW of offshore capacity deployed, located within the Arklow Bank project.”
There is a strong pipeline of offshore wind projects in the Irish sea. With clear Government support, these projects could deliver c.1,000MW of capacity in the immediate future that could help mitigate the 2020 fines, KPMG states, adding that there is an additional c.3,000MW that could be delivered between 2020 and 2030.
With appropriate policy support, Ireland can become an industry leader in the emerging area of floating wind, which is a particular technology where the western seaboard can experience significant benefit due to the nature of the sea basin and the large scale of the natural resource, the report reads.
In addition, once Ireland has achieved its targets for domestic renewable energy supply, there are significant opportunities in relation to interconnection and export. Such interconnection will support a higher penetration of renewable power onto the Irish grid and enable future exports, according to KPMG.
In order to facilitate development of the Irish offshore wind industry and stimulate the required private sector investment, specific Government policy support is required, the report highlights, further proposing that the Government forms an Offshore Wind Development Committee on the model of the IFSC, where the Department of the Taoiseach plays a lead role, to bring together representatives of the relevant Government Departments and State Agencies and industry representatives, with a remit to oversee the work necessary to develop the offshore wind industry.Based on consultation with key industry participants, the report recommends the following policy initiatives:
- The Government should develop a targeted policy for the development of the Irish offshore wind industry;
- Inclusion of technology-specific support for offshore wind within the proposed renewable electricity support scheme (“RESS”);
- Issue foreshore leases under the current Foreshore Act to enable Irish Sea projects to commence development in the immediate term, and introduce a Foreshore Amendment Act dealing with offshore wind; and Implement a specific offshore wind grid connection round for Irish Sea projects.
These policies would facilitate existing projects and provide a stimulus to the industry for future projects, enabling immediate investment and activity in the sector, KPMG states, adding that all of the suggested policies can be implemented in the short term.