The Department of Transport (DoT) has released a Policy Statement outlining the approach for the commercial ports to be able to support the offshore renewable energy operations in the Irish waters. The Policy Statement, which was approved by the Government last week, would also help Ireland’s commercial TEN-T ports qualify for EU money to build new infrastructure. It is one of a slew of government initiatives aimed at preparing for major growth of the offshore renewable energy, such as the passage of the Maritime Area Planning Bill last week.

By 2030, the Programme for Government aims for 70 percent of power to be produced from renewable sources and 5GW of offshore wind. Since then, the Climate Action Plan (CAP 21) issued on November 4, 2021, has boosted the objective to up to 80 percent renewable power by 2030. Both proposals also detail how Ireland will benefit from the potential for a minimum of 30GW of the floating offshore wind generation in our Atlantic waters.

Given Ireland’s increased plans in Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) and the pending review of the total National Ports Policy, the DoT, in collaboration with the IMDO (Irish Maritime Development Office), assessed the choices for the Irish State ports to help the ORE sector and Ireland meet its emission reduction targets.

Following the assessment’s recommendations, the Minister of Transport has determined that a multi-port solution is required. For the different phases of the permanent and floating ORE developments, several ports will be necessary to offer facilities for the various activities at various locations throughout the country and at various times.

This will maximize regional and national economic benefits in terms of employment generation and new SME firms in sectors like engineering, fabrication, transportation and logistics, and other technology.

Using one of the greatest offshore renewable energy resources in the world, there is a lot of opportunity for generating carbon-free renewable electricity with these resources. The growth of this vast resource could allow Ireland to improve its energy security by substituting indigenous renewable resources for imported fossil fuels and, prospectively, by developing a green energy export market, either via electricity export from the interconnectors or even power to gas, like hydrogen generation. Greenhouse gas emissions are going to be decreased while the economy grows and regional development is supported.

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