Industry leaders urge next government to fastrack offshore wind legislation

28 May , 2020  

Energy leaders from both sides of the Irish Sea have today called on the next government to urgently fastrack the Marine Planning and Development Management Bill and also enshrine interim 2025 offshore energy targets into law, in order  to greatly increase Ireland’s offshore wind energy capacity as it strives to meet its overall 2030 renewable targets.

Business leaders and experts from across the energy sector made the call at a virtual seminar hosted today by the British Irish Chamber of Commerce, in association with the UK’s Department for International Trade and SSE Renewables.

The event centred on the obstacles that are currently hindering efforts to develop Ireland’s offshore wind energy potential and the innovative ways that the industry can assist policymakers in reaching Ireland’s ambition of producing 70%  electricity from renewable sources by 2030. Prominent speakers from SSE Renewables, Olsen Renewables, Oriel Wind Farm and Wilton Engineering outlined a potential roadmap to increase Ireland’s offshore wind energy output over the coming decade. 

In his opening remarks, Mark Varian, Chair of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce Energy and Environment Committee said: “During the COVID-19 pandemic the Irish Government and Irish society generally have shown their ability to innovate and adapt. If we can use those same skills to tackle the issue of climate change, Ireland can cast off the self-styled title of a “laggard” and can use its natural resources to kick-start the economy and create new business opportunities.

“Ireland can also learn important lessons from the UK to become a leader in wind energy. A supportive regulatory framework, new planning laws and investment in modern infrastructure have all helped the UK offshore wind energy sector to thrive. There is also an important role for natural gas as a transitionary fuel, so it’s important that we get the energy mix right. These ingredients to success can best position Ireland to meet our goals in the Climate Action Plan and to take advantage of the new European Green Deal.”

Barry Kilcline, Director of Development, SSE Renewables said: “Developing Ireland’s offsore wind capacity is critial to reaching our renewable energy targets. But without legislation fast tracking offshore wind energy in the Irish Sea and beyond, we risk missing our carbon reduction goals.

“The new programme for government currently being negotiated provides a window of opportunity to remove the regulatory and infrastructure barriers that currently exiest. A commitment to swifltly progress the new Marine Planning and Development Management Bill and to enshrine into law the delivery of 1GW of offshore wind by 2025, would help to unleash Ireland’s offshore wind energy potential.”

Key speakers at today’s seminar entitled “Offshore Wind Development in the Irish Sea: A discussion on the pathway forward” included:

  • Mark Varian, Chair of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce Energy and Environment Committee and Partner, Eversheds Sutherland
  • Barry Kilcline, Director of Development, SSE Renewables
  • Garrett Connell, Project Manager, Oriel Wind Farm
  • Bruce Clements, Offshore Wind Specialist, Renewable Team, Department for International Trade
  • Martin Finucane, Principal Officer, International and Offshore Energy, Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment
  • Louise Glennon, Public Affairs Manager, SSE Renewables
  • Dr. Carolyn Heeps, Head of Offshore Wind at Fred. Olsen Renewables
  • Kevin O’Donovan, Managing Director, Statkraft Ireland
  • Bill Scott, CEO, Wilton Engineering