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Energy sector says Ireland won’t meet offshore wind targets
Emer Shelly and Eoin Cassidy of Mason Hayes and Curran and author Simon Mundy

19 Sep 2023 / environment Print

Energy heads: Ireland won’t meet offshore wind targets

Energy professionals do not believe that Ireland will meet its targets for offshore wind, a new survey by Mason Hayes & Curran (MHC) has found.

The Government aims to have 5GW of offshore wind capacity by 2030. However, 100% of the energy executives polled by the business law firm said this target would not be met.

The survey was carried out at the firm’s annual energy conference, ‘The Future of Energy Investment in Ireland’, which attracted close to 200 industry professionals to the Clayton Hotel in Cork City at the weekend.

A full 59% of respondents said less than 2GW of offshore wind capacity will be installed by 2030, and 41% said that more than 2GW but less than the 5GW target would be achieved.

Interconnection with Britain

The majority (72%) said that increased interconnection with Britain and mainland Europe is critical to delivering our off-shore wind ambitions.

However, there was more positivity around the proposed reforms to Ireland’s planning system.

Almost all (86%) of Ireland’s energy executives expect the proposed reforms to Irish planning law to have a positive effect on the sector.

The survey also found that planning uncertainty (48%) is Ireland’s greatest energy challenge when addressing our energy infrastructure deficit, followed by grid availability (35%).

Jay Sattin (MHC planning and environment partner) said: “These results are not surprising as there is a lot of frustration with the current delays in receiving a planning permission that is safe from legal challenge.

“If enacted in their current form, the proposed reforms should be broadly positive such as mandatory timelines for planning determinations. However those changes need to be supported by other measures including more resources for planning authorities, which should mean the timelines are achieved and result in fewer errors in the planning decisions.”

More than three quarters of respondents (81%) called for greater government focus on the decarbonisation of transport and heat – not just electricity – in order for Ireland to attract well-rounded FDI.

Meanwhile, just over two thirds of respondents (66%) said the incentivisation of green hydrogen production would help to deliver the decarbonisation of Ireland’s power system.

Event chair Eoin Cassidy (MHC partner and head of the energy sector team) said: “Ireland’s energy transition is one of the defining issues of our time and our energy lawyers are at the vanguard, helping clients to navigate the complex challenges that face the sector.”

Minister for Finance Michael McGrath in his keynote speech said: “Achieving the Paris Agreement goal of limiting the increase in global temperature to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels will entail nothing less than a full transformation of our economy and our society. 

"It is important to recognise that the scale of investment needed to transform our energy systems is beyond what can be facilitated through public sector funding alone.

“It is therefore imperative that we encourage the development of sustainable businesses,” he said.

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