Unleashing Ireland’s Offshore Wind Potential: A Renewable Energy Revolution
ElectroRoute is delighted to see that the Irish opportunity for offshore wind is finally on the brink of realisation, with the announcement of 3.1GW of projects being awarded long-term revenue contracts in the first Offshore Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (ORESS) auction!
When built, ElectroRoute estimates these windfarms will abate circa 5m tonnes of carbon dioxide, representing 8% of Ireland’s 2021 carbon emissions, and will provide enough clean, green energy to power over 2.5 million homes each year.
History of Offshore in Ireland
In the early 2000s, Ireland’s first offshore wind farm emerged on the Arklow coast, featuring seven pioneering turbines. These structures demonstrated a potentially monumental industry that could be delivered on the nation’s coastal waters. With its expansive coastline and abundant wind resources, Ireland’s geographical advantage relative to other jurisdictions, positions it as a prime contender for harnessing the immense potential of offshore wind power. Unfortunately, despite this early promise, Ireland has undergone a period of stagnation while neighbouring countries such as the United Kingdom and Northern European nations embarked on ambitious offshore wind programs, creating numerous jobs and economic value.
Significant Policy Development
Fortunately, Ireland is now awakening to the immense promise that lies in offshore wind energy, with government plans and policies now providing clarity to the sector. The Climate Action Plan  underpins the government’s commitment, setting out ambitious renewable energy targets, with offshore wind intended to play a pivotal role in Ireland’s decarbonisation aspirations. The plan aims to achieve 5GW of offshore wind by 2030 and an impressive 37GW of offshore wind capacity by 2050, aligning with the North Seas Energy Cooperation’s goal to move Europe towards energy independence.
Whilst it is clear that significant challenges remain in realising the potential for the offshore wind sector, recent years have seen significant progress including the introduction of marine planning legislation to establish a streamlined consenting process for offshore wind projects. In addition, the Minister for Enterprise, Trade, and Employment, Simon Coveney TD, recently unveiled plans to develop a National Industrial Strategy for Offshore Wind. This strategic blueprint will provide Ireland with a roadmap to seize the economic opportunities that arise from the production of offshore wind energy.
Offshore Renewable Electricity Support Scheme
Today’s ORESS announcement marks a significant turning point in Ireland’s renewable energy landscape. In total, four projects were awarded long-term contracts as shown in the table below.
|Dublin Array||East Coast, off Dublin||824|
|Sceirde Rocks Offshore Wind Farm||West Coast, off Galway||450|
|North Irish Sea Array (NISA)||East Coast, off Louth||500|
|Codling Wind Park||East Coast, off Wicklow||1,300|
The ORESS contracts guarantee each project a stable revenue stream based on the Strike Price it submitted into the ORESS Auction. By providing financial certainty and stability, ORESS incentivises equity and debt investment in the construction and operation of these large-scale projects.
Furthermore, these awards offer remarkable value for the energy consumer. With a weighted average strike price of €86.05/MWh, the power generated by these wind farms will not only be clean but also affordable and importantly will provide much-needed energy security as we transition away from fossil fuels.
Ireland’s offshore wind potential is no longer a dormant promise but a living, breathing reality. While challenges still remain to meet the delivery date of 2030, the time has come for Ireland to fully embrace renewable energy as the cornerstone to securing energy independence and cutting carbon emissions.
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