Ireland Raises 2030 Offshore Wind Target to 7 GW Through Agreement on Sectoral Emissions Ceilings

The Irish Government has increased the country’s offshore wind target for 2030 from 5 GW to 7 GW after reaching an agreement on Sectoral Emissions Ceilings that set maximum limits on greenhouse gas emissions for each sector of the Irish economy to the end of the decade.

The Sectoral Emissions Ceilings have been set for the electricity, transport, buildings, industry and agriculture sectors to reach an overall goal of 51 per cent reduction in greenhouse emissions by 2030, delivering on a key Programme for Government commitment, according to the Government’s press release from 28 July.

“This will involve a big transformation for all parts of society and all organisations, and the government intends to bring everyone along with us”, the Irish Government said.

The new agreement commits additional resources for solar (more than doubling the target to 5,500 MW), offshore wind (moving from a target of 5,000 MW to 7,000 MW), green hydrogen (an additional 2,000 MW), agro-forestry and anaerobic digestion (up to 5.7 TWh of biomethane) – to further accelerate the reduction of overall economy-wide emissions.

“We’ve seen this summer how temperatures across Europe have soared and tens of thousands of people have been evacuated because of wildfires. The planet is clearly heating up rapidly and we need to take action quickly. By setting these targets, across six critical sectors of our economy, Ireland is stepping up to the plate in reducing our impact on an increasingly fragile planet”, said Minister of the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan.

The overall target of 51 per cent reduction in greenhouse emissions can only be met if all sectors work together, the Government emphasised.

“The targets that have been set today are going to be challenging for all sectors but they are also fair, appropriate and, importantly, based on what is achievable. We have also agreed additional resources and commitments to scale up and speed up our progress on solar, off-shore wind, anaerobic digestion for nature, and agro-forestry”, Minister Ryan said.

“I have every faith that we will, together, reduce our overall economy-wide carbon emissions, year by year. This is not just the right thing to do for our environment and our planet; this is also the smart thing to do for our economy, and to protect ourselves against the high cost of fossil fuels”.

Besides the agreement on Sectoral Emission Ceilings, which is provided for in the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021, the Irish Government has also recently agreed on a Climate Law and carbon budgets, also part of the same Act.

The Act required the Climate Change Advisory Council to prepare, publish and submit a proposed Carbon Budget programme that would support a 51 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, relative to 2018 emission levels, and the legally-binding national climate objective of achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

In offshore wind, the Government has already made several key moves to streamline the permitting process and facilitate faster offshore wind deployment.

In March, Minister Eamon Ryan invited applications from the first batch of offshore wind projects for Maritime Area Consents (MACs) under the country’s new regime. The first MACs are expected to be issued in the second half on this year.

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The invited projects include seven developments that were designated as “relevant projects” in 2020: Oriel Wind Park, RWE’s Bray and Kish Banks, Codling Wind Park I and II, Fuinneamh Sceirde Teoranta (Skerd Rocks), and North Irish Sea Array (NISA).

Ireland’s new regulative setup for offshore wind has also triggered interest from several developers with projects further to the seven invited for the first round of MACs.

One of the recently announced is a 2 GW floating wind farm proposed to be built offshore Donegal by the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation and Sinbad Marine Services, the first project of its kind that has fishermen behind it.

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The partners, which teamed up with the Swedish floating wind developer and technology provider Hexicon for the project, plan to submit an application for Phase Two MAC under the new Maritime Area Planning Act.

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Photo: The Arklow Bank offshore wind farm in Ireland. Source: SSE (archive)