The Irish Government has opened a consultation for its first ever offshore wind auction. This is the first step in Ireland’s ambitious plan of having 5 GW of offshore wind by 2030.
Ireland already has the highest share of onshore wind in its electricity mix of any country in Europe – 38%. But it wants to get 70% of its electricity from renewables by 2030. To deliver that the Government wants to add a further 4GW of onshore wind capacity by then – and build 5 GW of offshore wind.
Today the Emerald Isle only has one small offshore wind farm. This is all set to change. The Government is designing its first offshore wind auction and has just issued a public consultation on it. They plan to run two auctions by 2025 to cover the 5 GW that would then be built by 2030. They will use two-sided Contracts for Difference (CfDs) – good. CfDs are cheaper for Governments and consumers than other support schemes. They act as a revenue stabilisation mechanism and they reduce the financing costs of new wind energy projects.
Most of these first 5 GW will be bottom-fixed offshore wind. Beyond 2030 the Government wants Ireland to have a massive 35 GW of offshore wind by 2050, and this would require significant volumes of floating offshore wind too in the deeper waters off the south and west coasts.
It’s important that the Irish Government provides clarity to the wind industry as soon as possible on how the first auction will run. And Ireland needs to start investing ASAP too in the infrastructure needed for the development of offshore wind. Ports in particular need immediate investments so that they’ll be ready to convey the equipment out to the wind farms. They need investments in space, heavy-loading quaysides and deep berths for the installation vessels.
Ireland is developing a 700MW Celtic Interconnector to France, which will enable it to export some of its wind power. But most of its new offshore wind energy will support the direct electrification of the Irish economy. Offshore wind gives Ireland another opportunity: producing renewable hydrogen and ammonia.
WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson said: “Ireland’s already Europe’s number one in onshore wind. And it’s got great conditions for offshore wind too. So it’s excellent news that the Irish Government is going to have an auction for its first offshore projects soon. The industry are ready to go, but it’s very important the Government clarifies the rules for the first auction ASAP. And Ireland needs to start investing urgently in its port infrastructure so the ports will be ready for the first projects in a few years time.”