The Irish government today published the framework and policy for so-called Phase Two of offshore wind development in Ireland, which it approved on March 7, drawing criticism from industry body Wind Energy Ireland (WEI).
Most of the government’s 5 GW offshore wind target by 2030 is expected to be achieved by Phase One projects, which total around 4.4 GW. These projects will compete in the first offshore wind auction to be completed by June 2023. Some of them, however, may fail to secure a route to market or development consent.
The government said that the transition from Phase One to the longer term enduring offshore regime will be known as Phase Two.
A first auction to take place under Phase Two, ORESS 2, will be launched by the end of 2023.
The Phase Two auctions will procure offshore wind capacity for development within individual Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Designated Areas. EirGrid has identified available onshore grid capacity for 700 MW of offshore renewables off the South coast of Ireland. ORESS 2 participants will compete for support to develop 350 MW each in two areas, or a 700 MW project within a single ORE Designated Area.
In addition, beyond Phase Two and the 5 GW objective, the government said it has committed to Phase Three which targets an initial 2 GW of floating offshore wind and may include projects available for green hydrogen production.
WEI said the new government offshore wind policy jeopardises the 2030 targets.
“The plan contains two major changes which have implications for achieving the 2030 targets: First, it introduces a requirement that all future offshore wind farms must be built in Designated Marine Areas which have yet to be identified and may not be for 18-24 months. Second, it proposes that future offshore wind farms will not connect to points on land but to offshore substations to be designed and built by EirGrid, something never done by the company before,” its statement reads.
“Our members have been working for years to deliver the projects Ireland needs only for the rules to change, without warning, in the middle of the process. We are effectively being told to stop developing offshore wind energy and wait for further decisions at a point when we have no time to lose,” commented Noel Cunniffe, chief executive of Wind Energy Ireland.
“We urgently need to sit down with Government and identify what can be done to speed up the identification of areas for offshore wind farms,” Cunniffe also said.
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