Only a single port on the island of Ireland, Belfast Harbour, is ready to be used to construct offshore wind farms according to a new National Ports Study published by Wind Energy Ireland at its Annual Offshore Wind Energy Conference in Dublin.
The report, produced by Gavin & Doherty Geosolutions, is the most detailed analysis ever carried out of the readiness of Irish ports for the development of offshore renewable energy. It includes a thorough analysis of the existing infrastructure available at 13 ports and harbours on the island of Ireland and their plans for expansion to meet the needs of offshore wind.
The ports and harbours examined in the report were, in alphabetical order, Belfast D1, Belfast Harland & Wolff, Bremore, Cork Dockyard, Foynes Island, Galway, Killybegs, Larne, Moneypoint, Port of Cork (Ringaskiddy), Ros an Mhíl, Rosslare Europort and Shannon-Foynes.
Noel Cunniffe, CEO of Wind Energy Ireland, said: “We want to build Irish offshore wind farms in Irish ports. Our members – both ports and developers – are absolutely united on this. That is the best way to create jobs at home and to deliver offshore wind energy at the lowest possible price.
“But we cannot build 7 GW of offshore wind energy by the end of 2030 if we only have a single port on the island suitable for building offshore wind farms. We need to be able to build more than one offshore wind project at the same time if we are to have any chance to deliver the carbon emissions cuts that the Government wants and that climate action requires.
“We know Minister Eamon Ryan is taking this seriously. Last year’s Government policy statement on offshore wind and commercial ports, combined with the new Offshore Wind Delivery Task Force, show an increased focus on delivery from the Department of Transport, the IMDO and other State agencies.
“But with only eight years to deliver 7 GW of offshore wind energy there is growing concern throughout industry that projects may have to be built from outside of Ireland or will need to wait for availability in Belfast.”
While the report is frank about the challenges facing Ireland in developing the port infrastructure needed for offshore renewable energy there is also recognition of the determination among Irish ports to be part of the country’s energy revolution.
Sarah Gibson, Principal Engineer with Gavin & Doherty Geosolutions and the report’s lead author, said: “Our ports have the ambition, the determination and the imagination to provide first-class infrastructure for the construction of offshore renewable energy projects. Ports like Rosslare, Cork Dockyard and Shannon-Foynes have already put in substantial work getting ready for offshore wind.
“Ports and developers both want this to happen. Ireland can be a base from which to build a generation of fixed-bottom and floating wind energy projects, creating thousands of jobs and ensuring that investment stays in Ireland.
“But it won’t just happen by itself. It will need Government, ports and renewable energy developers working together to make this ambition a reality.”
The report was co-funded by a number of Wind Energy Ireland members: Belfast Harbour, DP Energy, ESB, Inis Offshore Wind, Ocean Winds, Ørsted, Source Energie and RWE.
The report can be accessed here.