Investment in Ireland's offshore wind sector is at risk without clarity on the market rules, according to a new report.
The report – 'A Great Leap Forward? Offshore Wind in Ireland' – was commissioned by consultancy Cornwall Insight Ireland in partnership with the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult and law firm Pinsent Masons.
It said large-scale deployment has fallen behind other markets in Ireland because of a lack of strong policy support, despite the country having a good offshore wind resources.
Current policy developments will deliver support for a maximum offshore wind deployment of 2.4GW by 2030, the report added.
Recommendations put forward by the authors to boost this figure include: managing offshore wind under the Enduring Connection Policy and enacting the Maritime Area and Foreshore Bill as rapidly as possible.
Further information is also needed on technology caps available for offshore wind in the planned Renewable Electricity Support Scheme auctions, and the mechanics of the auctions, they added.
Cornwall Insight Ireland head Conall Bolger said: “With a relatively unexploited resource, the experience of other markets from which to learn, and a willingness to support offshore wind projects under the new proposed support scheme for renewable energy, Ireland is poised to move forward.
“This paper marks the start of Cornwall Insight Ireland’s contribution to the debate on how best to develop policy and regulatory frameworks to encourage investment in offshore wind.”
Irish Wind Energy Association chief executive David Connolly said: “We really need to see a sense of urgency from the government in eliminating the planning and technical obstructions that have prevented us from exploiting our enormous offshore wind potential.”
ORE Catapult operational performance director Chris Hill said: “The untapped potential for offshore wind in Ireland is enormous, and with it the opportunity to generate significant employment and economic value.
“Proximity to the UK can take advantage of existing innovation networks, but positive policy support is required to catalyse these benefits.”
Pinsent Masons head of energy in Ireland Richard Murphy said: “Our work shows Ireland needs a better alignment across policy and regulatory frameworks to allow projects to come forward to market. With the rich resources we have, and strong fundamental structure underpinning our market it is inconceivable we would neglect such an opportunity.”