Policy shift impacts Irish offshore wind projects

Tougher rules in Ireland on where offshore wind facilities can be built has led some developers to begin pausing large investments in Irish offshore wind parks.

Barry Kilcine, Ireland head of offshore at SSE Renewables, said he was aware of “at least two” significant investment decisions that had been abandoned as a result of the policy change.

Kilcine said that SSE Renewables had spent several million euros on plans for a wind farm off the coast of Louth on Ireland’s eastern seaboard, but that this was now in doubt.

Ireland’s Climate Minister Eamon Ryan said this month that the government’s approach would “guide investment and decision-making” and that it would complement a forthcoming network of Marine Protected Areas. However, many in the industry have warned that the policy change threatened investment in the sector, with as much as seven gigawatts of offshore wind under threat by the end of the decade.

Ireland has a publicly stated goal of getting 80% of its power from renewables by the end of the decade, as well as delivering a 51% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions over the period.

While there are more than 30 gigawatts of offshore wind projects currently in development, only 4.4 gigawatts will be able to bid into the first Irish auction which opens next month. Investors said that they were concerned that much of the remaining capacity could become unviable.

Wind Energy Ireland, the representative body, said in a note to members that, since the change in policy,  it was aware that some companies had started to redeploy staff to projects outside of Ireland.