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SSE Renewables calls on Irish government to set minimum 5GW offshore wind ambition by 2030

16 Feb 2022

Maria Ryan speaking at the Irish Renewable Energy Summit, in Croke Park.

Leading offshore wind energy developer SSE Renewables has called on the Irish Government to increase its 2030 offshore wind energy ambitions to help address the climate crisis and protect Ireland from the ongoing geopolitical threats to energy security in Europe.

Speaking at the Irish Renewable Energy Summit taking place today at Croke Park, Dublin, the company’s Director of Development Maria Ryan called on the Irish Government to expand its renewable energy ambition and increase its current 5GW target of installed offshore wind energy by 2030.

Delivering a keynote address to the Summit, Maria Ryan said:

“Offshore wind will be key to addressing the climate crisis, while also protecting Ireland from the geopolitical threats that are ongoing in Europe. It will reduce dependencies on fossil fuels and help protect energy consumers from rising wholesale gas prices.

"“Meeting the current 5GW target of installed offshore wind energy in Irish waters by 2030 is absolutely critical. However, Ireland needs to challenge itself to do more, and we shouldn’t settle for the current 5GW target by the end of the decade. Instead, we should see this target as the absolute minimum requirement needed to tackle climate change and secure Ireland’s indigenous energy requirements. As a result, we encourage the Government to aims to deliver ‘at least 5GW’ of offshore wind by 2030.”"

Maria Ryan Director of Development, SSE Renewables

SSE Renewables is actively working to deliver three offshore wind projects before the end of the decade. These include Arklow Bank Wind Park 2 off Co. Wicklow which will be among Ireland’s Phase 1 of projects to be delivered, as well as Phase 2 projects Braymore Wind Park off the Meath/Louth border and the Celtic Sea Array off Waterford Estuary. Together, the three projects would have a combined installed generation capacity of around 2GW, enough to power over 2 million homes and offset almost two billion kilos of carbon annually.

Maria Ryan said 2021 was a notable year for the offshore wind sector in Ireland with the passing of the Maritime Area Planning (MAP) bill through all stages of the Oireachtas but called for momentum to be maintained to ensure Phase 1 projects, the first batch of offshore wind energy projects currently in development in the Irish Sea, can be delivered on target.

“With the MAP legislation now enacted we need to see the same level of purpose and enthusiasm ploughed into the establishment of the Maritime Area Regulatory Authority (MARA) over this year and next, into the issuing of grid offers for Phase 1 projects, and into kicking off the first Offshore Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (ORESS) so we can begin getting offshore wind turbines in Irish waters. The establishment of MARA is also crucial for the delivery of the following generation of offshore wind projects as, until that body is established, Phase 2 offshore wind projects cannot secure seabed. So we must see political will and sufficiently-resourced administrative action more greatly aligned on the important goal of delivery.”

SSE Renewables has a development pipeline of 11GW of new renewable energy projects in the UK and Ireland to power the drive to net zero. These include a 2.6GW site which SSE Renewables won under Scotland’s recent ScotWind seabed leasing round and which will see it building one of the world’s first and biggest floating offshore wind farms off the Scottish coast.

Maria Ryan said Ireland can look to ScotWind to help maximise the delivery of Phase 2 offshore wind projects, which will include fixed as well as floating turbine developments in Ireland’s deeper offshore waters. “We need to take lessons from ScotWind where bidders from around the globe, alongside local developers including SSE Renewables, lined up to bid for seabed rights to develop wind farms, with up to 10GW of new generation up for grabs. The results delivered a power punch to that original 10GW target, delivering an eye-watering 25GW of clean, green electricity – enough to power tens of millions of homes, and power the expanding electrification of the Scottish economy. We can look to ScotWind to help accelerate and maximise the delivery of Phase 2 projects as quickly as possible.

“In our experience it can take 10 years to develop an offshore project from initiation to reaching a final investment decision. While there has been a huge amount of progress, we only have eight years left to meet the 2030 targets. So, we need to ensure we continue with pace and resource sufficiently to ensure delivery.”

SSE Renewables is part of SSE plc, which recently announced plans to invest £12.5bn over the next five years, or £7m a day, to deliver the company’s Net Zero Acceleration Programme to address climate change head on. SSE Renewables is leading the delivery of that Programme through the world-class development, construction and operation of renewable energy assets which will help support the transition to a net zero future in Ireland, the UK and globally.

It is leading the construction of more offshore wind energy than any other company in the world. This includes the world’s largest offshore wind farm, the 3.6GW Dogger Bank Wind Farm in the North Sea, a joint venture with Equinor and Eni, as well as the world’s deepest fixed bottom offshore wind farm, the 1.1GW Seagreen Offshore Wind Farm in Scotland’s Firth of Forth with joint venture partner TotalEnergies.