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Ireland’s offshore wind ambitions founder in a sea of red tape

Bloomberg News|May 11, 2023
IrelandOffshore WindEnergy Policy

Ireland’s government is embarking on an ambitious effort to build up the country’s offshore resources, with the ruling coalition having made climate a top priority and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine driving up energy prices.


  • Dublin is courting global companies to develop wind farms
  • National planning systems remain mired in delays and red tape

DUBLIN: On the morning of Oct 19, a storm swept across the Irish Sea. Intense rains battered the country with flash flooding, and just over 100 miles south of the Irish east coast, a bolt of lightning struck one of the seven turbines at the Arklow Bank wind farm, setting it ablaze.

Onlookers watched as dark smoke billowed from the towering turbine and bright red flames licked its still-swirling blades. Then it went offline. In one fell swoop, a seventh of Ireland’s offshore wind generation was knocked out of production.

For decades, Ireland has had big plans to exploit the incredible natural advantage afforded by its …

... more [truncated due to possible copyright]
  • Dublin is courting global companies to develop wind farms
  • National planning systems remain mired in delays and red tape

DUBLIN: On the morning of Oct 19, a storm swept across the Irish Sea. Intense rains battered the country with flash flooding, and just over 100 miles south of the Irish east coast, a bolt of lightning struck one of the seven turbines at the Arklow Bank wind farm, setting it ablaze.

Onlookers watched as dark smoke billowed from the towering turbine and bright red flames licked its still-swirling blades. Then it went offline. In one fell swoop, a seventh of Ireland’s offshore wind generation was knocked out of production.

For decades, Ireland has had big plans to exploit the incredible natural advantage afforded by its position on the edge of Europe.

While it is one of the smallest members of the European Union, it has a maritime area seven times the size of its landmass, giving it unique access to the powerful Atlantic winds that rap the Irish coast.

“The energy that you can capture from wind farms off the west coast of Ireland is significantly more than the energy you can potentially capture elsewhere in Europe,” said Barry Kilcline, Ireland head of offshore at SSE Renewables.

When Arklow Bank went live 19 years ago it was intended to be a template for future wind farms. Yet no new farms have been built in Ireland since it was completed, and the country’s electricity grid is long overdue for an upgrade.

There are many theories as to why the sector failed to take off - some point to a lack of enthusiasm, others, including Energy Minister Eamon Ryan, have observed that onshore wind cost “half if not a third” of the price of offshore wind in 2004.

Whatever the reason, the Irish government for years failed to develop any substantial policy around offshore development.

Now, Ireland’s government is embarking on an ambitious effort to build up the country’s offshore resources, with the ruling coalition having made climate a top priority and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine driving up energy prices.

By 2050, the country is aiming to have at least 37 gigawatts of installed capacity, which would enable it to secure its energy independence, meet climate goals and, as Kilcline put it, make Ireland “the Saudi Arabia of offshore wind for Europe.”

If it continues to wait, the stakes are high. The country would blow a hole in its climate targets, jeopardise its tilt toward energy independence, squander a valuable potential revenue stream and watch while thousands of jobs are created elsewhere.

Ireland launched its first offshore wind auction in April, soliciting bids from seven major energy industry players to build new state-subsidised wind farms mostly along the eastern coast.

The process will be completed in early May and the companies responsible for the successful proposals will be notified by Ireland’s energy planning authority in mid-June.

The completion of a wave of new wind farms would be a significant step towards Ireland meeting its goal of getting 80% of its power from renewables and halving its greenhouse gas emissions by the end of the decade.

The seven gigawatts of energy that Ireland plans to capture by 2030 through the initial batch of wind farms is expected to power 4.7 million homes per year – more than twice the country’s 2.1 million – and represents less than a tenth of what experts say could be the total amount it will eventually generate. — Bloomberg


Source:https://www.thestar.com.my/bu…

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