Power to three million Irish homes and thousands of jobs can be secured by delivering on our offshore wind energy capabilities, a Fine Gael Senator has said.
Under the Climate Action Plan, 70 per cent of Ireland’s electricity will be generated from renewable energy by 2030.
Senator Tim Lombard has encouraged all stakeholders to engage with a new consultation launched by Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton, on the best model for the new grid.
Following the consultation, the Government will decide on the appropriate offshore grid model for Ireland, which will be aligned with the National Marine Planning Framework (NMPF) and the development consent regime for the maritime area as set out in the Maritime Planning and Development Management Bill (MPDM).
Senator Lombard said: “The economic and social benefits of offshore wind are huge. Ireland is the only European Union country with an Atlantic coastline which has not fully developed its offshore resource.
“This currently places us at an economic and competitive disadvantage. We have immense potential and it’s time we realised it.”
Last month, the Government fast-tracked the development of seven offshore wind farm projects, based off the East Coast, the South East and Galway Bay, planned by five different firms.
Compared to international developments, Senator Lombard said there is untapped potential along the Atlantic coast.
“It has been found in the UK economy that per 1,000MW installed, an economic boost of €2 billion is expected. The development of existing projects which have up to 4,000MW potential capacity would result in significant economic impact to the Irish economy.
“It is also estimated that a move offshore would create 20,000 new jobs (including onshore) by 2040, as well as very substantial additional investment according to the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI).
Senator Lombard continued: “At least 3,500 MW of this, enough to power over 3 million homes, will come from offshore wind.
“It would also lead to the economic revitalisation of coastal areas, a welcome development in these uncertain times.
“I know many people have concerns about the visual impact of such grids on our beautiful coastline. But it is worth noting that the location of turbines many kilometres out to sea has a low level of visual impact and virtually no noise impact on communities.
“Decarbonising our electricity grid is central to our plan to deliver on our climate ambitions. It is crucial we put in place a model that allows us to scale up and realise the changes required.
“Following on from a study carried out by a working group last year, a report published this week outlines four models chosen as scenario examples to explore the advantages and disadvantages of the various approaches available, from different stakeholder perspectives,.
“The ultimate choice of grid delivery model will come from any point along the full spectrum of options available, informed by careful consideration of the key drivers in the Irish context.
“The consultation is open for submissions until Wednesday 1 July, and I would encourage all stakeholders to engage and have their opinions heard,” Senator Lombard concluded.