SSE Renewables Calls On Ireland to Raise Offshore Wind Ambitions

SSE Renewables has called on the Irish Government to expand its renewable energy ambition and increase its current 5 GW target of installed offshore wind energy by 2030.

Speaking at the Irish Renewable Energy Summit at Croke Park, Dublin, the company’s Director of Development Maria Ryan said the offshore wind was key to addressing the climate crisis, while also protecting Ireland from the geopolitical threats that are ongoing in Europe.

According to Ryan, offshore wind would also reduce dependencies on fossil fuels and help protect energy consumers from rising wholesale gas prices.

”Meeting the current 5GW target of installed offshore wind energy in Irish waters by 2030 is absolutely critical,” Ryan said.

”However, Ireland needs to challenge itself to do more, and we shouldn’t settle for the current 5GW target by the end of the decade. Instead, we should see this target as the absolute minimum requirement needed to tackle climate change and secure Ireland’s indigenous energy requirements. As a result, we encourage the Government to aims to deliver ‘at least 5GW’ of offshore wind by 2030.”

Three Projects Under Development Offshore Ireland

SSE Renewables is working to deliver three offshore wind projects in Ireland before the end of the decade. These include Arklow Bank Wind Park 2 off Co. Wicklow which will be among Ireland’s Phase 1 of projects to be delivered, as well as Phase 2 projects Braymore Wind Park off the Meath/Louth border and the Celtic Sea Array off Waterford Estuary.

Together, the three projects would have a combined installed generation capacity of around 2 GW, enough to power over 2 million homes and offset almost two billion kilos of carbon annually, SSE Renewables said.

Ryan said 2021 was a notable year for the offshore wind sector in Ireland with the passing of the Maritime Area Planning (MAP) bill through all stages of the Oireachtas but called for momentum to be maintained to ensure Phase 1 projects, the first batch of offshore wind energy projects currently in development in the Irish Sea, can be delivered on target.

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”With the MAP legislation now enacted we need to see the same level of purpose and enthusiasm ploughed into the establishment of the Maritime Area Regulatory Authority (MARA) over this year and next, into the issuing of grid offers for Phase 1 projects, and into kicking off the first Offshore Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (ORESS) so we can begin getting offshore wind turbines in Irish waters,” Ryan said.

”The establishment of MARA is also crucial for the delivery of the following generation of offshore wind projects as, until that body is established, Phase 2 offshore wind projects cannot secure seabed. So we must see political will and sufficiently-resourced administrative action more greatly aligned on the important goal of delivery.”

ScotWind as Blueprint

SSE Renewables has a development pipeline of 11 GW of new renewable energy projects in the UK and Ireland. These include a 2.6 GW site which SSE Renewables won under Scotland’s recent ScotWind seabed leasing round and which will see it building one of the world’s first and biggest floating offshore wind farms off the Scottish coast.

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Ryan said Ireland can look to ScotWind to help maximise the delivery of Phase 2 offshore wind projects, which will include fixed as well as floating turbine developments in Ireland’s deeper offshore waters.

”We need to take lessons from ScotWind where bidders from around the globe, alongside local developers including SSE Renewables, lined up to bid for seabed rights to develop wind farms, with up to 10GW of new generation up for grabs,” Ryan said.

”The results delivered a power punch to that original 10GW target, delivering an eye-watering 25GW of clean, green electricity – enough to power tens of millions of homes, and power the expanding electrification of the Scottish economy. We can look to ScotWind to help accelerate and maximise the delivery of Phase 2 projects as quickly as possible.”

SSE Renewables is part of SSE plc, which recently announced plans to invest GBP 12.5 billion over the next five years, or GBP 7 million a day, to deliver the company’s Net Zero Acceleration Programme.

SSE Renewables added that the company is leading the construction of more offshore wind energy than any other company in the world. This includes the world’s largest offshore wind farm, the 3.6 GW Dogger Bank Wind Farm in the North Sea, a joint venture with Equinor and Eni, as well as the world’s deepest fixed bottom offshore wind farm, the 1.1 GW Seagreen Offshore Wind Farm in Scotland’s Firth of Forth with joint venture partner TotalEnergies.

”In our experience it can take 10 years to develop an offshore project from initiation to reaching a final investment decision. While there has been a huge amount of progress, we only have eight years left to meet the 2030 targets. So, we need to ensure we continue with pace and resource sufficiently to ensure delivery,” Ryan said.

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Photo: SSE