Port works needed to meet windfarm demand

Ports such as Galway and Ros an Mhíl need to be developed quickly if the country is to meet offshore wind energy targets, a study by Wind Energy Ireland revealed yesterday.

Galway Port and Ros an Mhil both have ambitious plans to be at the heart of the wind energy industry in the west of Ireland over the next decade, but the hard-hitting survey has said that much more progress is needed if they and other ports are to play their part in the development of Ireland as the major wind energy player in Western Europe.

Currently only ONE port (Belfast ) on the island of Ireland has the facility to construct offshore windfarms in-port, before they are transported out to sea. In the west, windfarms off the west coast would have to be constructed on-shore in ports like Galway and Ros an Mhil, if the 2030 targets are to be met.

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, Galway, Ros an Mhíl, Belfast D1, Belfast Harland & Wolff, Bremore, Cork Dockyard, Foynes Island, Killybegs, Larne, Moneypoint, Port of Cork (Ringaskiddy ), Rosslare Europort and Shannon-Foynes.

Noel Cunniffe, CEO of Wind Energy Ireland, said they 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.”

The report makes several key recommendations including funding, clarity and planning.

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.


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