Ireland has the potential to produce enough renewable electricity to power 64.4m homes across the EU if the Government developed the offshore energy sector in a strategic manner, Denis Naughten told the Dáil today.
“The present approach of Government is to develop these opportunities in a piecemeal manner, which is positive for ports such as Ros a Mhíl with a €25m investment, but if we are to truly capitalise on our massive offshore energy opportunities then we need to strategically develop all our ports,” said Denis Naughten
“And while the Russians are holding the EU over a barrel regarding gas supplies, taming the EU’s approach not just to Ukraine but to war games off our own coast, we in Ireland are sitting on enough offshore electricity to power all the homes in Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia as well as Bulgaria.
“Rather than this being developer driven, I believe we need to establish a statutory Offshore Renewable Development Authority that can drive a fully coordinated national action plan whose responsibility would range from research and development through to supply chain development and commercial deployment.
“The establishment of an offshore renewable development authority was unanimously adopted by the Dáil on 8th December last, which would not only ensure that a strategic approach is taken to the development of our ports to maximise our opportunities but also help in the medium term to drive down the cost of electricity for Irish families,” concluded Denis Naughten.
Motion approved by Dáil Éireann:
That Dáil Éireann:
recognises that: — Ireland has one of the largest maritime areas in the European Union (EU), seven times larger than our land mass, and covers an area of almost 500,000 sq. km, representing a 220-million-acre marine resource;
— there is potential to develop over 70,000 megawatts of offshore renewable energy, providing Ireland with the opportunity to be a major exporter of green energy, powering much of Europe by 2050 via wind generated electricity and hydrogen;
— while green hydrogen is in its infancy as a technology, Ireland is in a unique position to exploit its full economic and employment potential as an early technology mover;
— exploiting the full offshore renewable capacity will lead to an investment of over €100 billion, providing for a sustainable jobs dividend within our coastal communities, particularly along our western seaboard;
— the Oireachtas is progressing the Maritime Area Planning Bill 2021 which will provide a legal basis for the long-term protection and sustainable development of the maritime area, while also ensuring that there are clear timelines and a streamlined process in place for developments;
— our energy system is dominated by imported fossil fuels, in particular oil, which is used for transport as well as in residential heating and in the industrial sector, and natural gas, which is primarily used for electricity generation, industry, services, and residential heating;
— renewable energy not only avoids emissions but increases energy security and protects the long-term sustainability of our economy; and
— the Government has designated seven offshore wind ‘Relevant Projects’ which are seeking to supply over 3,000 megawatts of electricity to the national grid; notes: — that the Climate Action Plan 2021 commits to increase renewables to meet 80 per cent of our electricity needs by 2030;
— that if Ireland is to achieve its renewable energy commitments by 2030 it will require a doubling of offshore generation capacity off Ireland’s eastern and southern coasts;
— that offshore renewable development in Ireland is currently developer-led and there is real concern, despite Government policy to transition to a plan-led approach, that this will be sacrificed in order to achieve the ambitious 2030 commitments; and
— the process for the second auction under the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) commences on 7th December, 2021, with the goal of increasing technology diversity by broadening the renewable electricity technology mix, with plans to soon commence the first offshore competition under the RESS (ORESS 1); and calls on the Government to: — immediately draft an offshore renewable action plan to bring together all of the key stakeholders, including all third-level and further education institutions and development agencies, including the Western Development Commission, to draw up a strategy to ensure that all possible offshore sites are fully considered in terms of the economic benefits, including high value jobs, which they can bring from the exploitation of the massive renewable energy resources off our coast;
— ensure that the proposed Maritime Area Regulatory Authority is established, resourced and operational within the next 12 months, to capitalise on the growing demand for offshore renewable deployment;
— establish an offshore renewable development authority similar to the Industrial Development Authority that will drive a fully coordinated national action plan, and will have responsibilities ranging from research and development and supply chain development to the commercial deployment of renewable energy, ensuring that Ireland becomes the leading global clean energy exporter;
— direct the offshore renewable development authority to coordinate the Government implementation of the offshore renewable action plan, to source financial investment and to attract multinational players as well as promoting joint ventures with domestic enterprises and third-level institutions;
— instruct Enterprise Ireland, in conjunction with the offshore renewable development authority, to stimulate the establishment of indigenous businesses in the renewable energy supply chain through a national renewable energy business accelerator programme;
— instigate the urgent drafting of a green hydrogen strategy involving the emerging industry across the EU as well as key domestic stakeholders to assess hydrogen’s suitability as a key future energy source for our economy and identify the main infrastructure investment requirements;
— designate Foynes Port and the Shannon Estuary as a European centre of excellence for the manufacture of offshore floating renewable energy technology;
— invest in the upgrading of all our ports with the capacity to facilitate the assembly, deployment and maintenance of offshore renewable technologies;
— immediately design a strategy in conjunction with the European Commission to fund and construct an Atlantic electricity interconnector which would land west/southwest coast renewable energy directly into the mainland European electricity grid; and
— ensure that all offshore renewable energy rights issued will not just be dependent on the speed of commissioning and price to the consumer but also take into consideration the annual community rebate along with the domestic employment generated in the manufacture, deployment, and maintenance of such infrastructure.