Ireland needs to develop its port and shipping services or risk losing out on substantial elements of a multibillion euro renewable energy sector growing in northwest Europe, a new report says.
The analysis, from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland and the Irish Maritime Development Office, warns that Ireland’s promise in the realm of offshore wind, tidal and wave energy could be jeopardized because of a lack of supply services and equipment available in Irish ports.
“The development of appropriate port locations is critical to Ireland becoming a base for construction and assembly of wind turbines and ocean energy devices,” said Eoin Sweeney, Head of the Ocean Energy Development Unit at SEAI.
“We have a significant opportunity given the very large marine renewable resources available off both our east and west coasts, but we now need to look at the investment in infrastructure required if we are to properly capitalise on the current opportunities in this area,” Sweeney continued. “The concern is that if these facilities are not available, offshore wind developers and wave and tidal manufacturers could source the manufactured equipment for projects outside Ireland.”
The report reiterated that Irish ports and shipping vessels were “well placed to benefit from the substantial ramp-up in the development”, particularly in relation to the North Sea.
The value of proposed offshore wind farms in Irish coastal waters is in the order of €7 billion. The potential value of wave and tidal energy in Irish waters was estimated at €9 billion.
But it warned, “We now need to look at the investment in infrastructure required if we are to properly capitalise on the current opportunities in this area”.
The report identified the east coast as best placed to support fixed offshore wind and tidal installations.
The south and west coasts were best placed to support wave, fixed and floating wind installations.
It recommended bringing forward a “first phase” of dedicated port locations which might be used to service offshore installations, and specified a requirement for shipping support vessels to engage with large offshore renewable energy developments.