Why Ireland is an Offshore Wind location to watch
The power of wind energy is no strange thing to Ireland – currently, the country has the highest onshore wind generation per percentage of electricity produced in Europe. But ambitious climate targets mean that the country is stepping it up its renewable energy game by harnessing the power of its offshore wind potential. By 2030, the Irish government has pledged to install 5GW of offshore wind technology and finally take advantage of one of its most valuable, natural commodities. Ireland is fast becoming an offshore wind location to watch – and here’s why.
When it comes to generating offshore wind energy, Ireland has a natural advantage. With some of the highest average wind speeds in Europe, the West and North coasts are particular hotbeds for wind activity. The country’s maritime area extends far into the Atlantic Ocean and is up to 10 times the size of Ireland, with deep-water sites along the West and South coast. This oceanic vastness and areas of deep-water are an essential component for the imbedding of wind farm technology. In fact, due to the island’s small geographical and population size, it is predicted that the offshore wind capacity could power the entirety of Ireland’s electricity needs. Conservative studies even estimate the potential annual energy output from Irish waters to be between 7–12 million GW - two to four times the current European electrical demand.
Ireland’s unique geographical advantage has not gone unnoticed. In 2021, the government passed a Maritime Area Planning Bill which is helping the country make huge strides to expand its offshore wind capacity – with 7 approved offshore wind farm projects in initial planning stages. Significant investment is being funnelled into the country’s ports and projects are being fast tracked as the country races to meet their 2030 targets.
The only operating wind farm in Ireland currently is the Arklow Bank Wind Park (Phase 1) generating 1750 GW each year and powering 500,000 Irish homes, but this is soon set to change. Codling Wind Park, set to be the nation’s biggest offshore wind farm and largest infrastructure project, is now in installation stages – promising to power up to 1.2 million Irish homes per year by the late 2020s.
However, as pressures mount on Ireland to increase their offshore wind generation, doubts fall on their current grid capacity. Eirgrid, Ireland’s electric power transmission operator, is readying itself to achieve the ambitious 80% renewable electricity target by 2030, but as current generation stands at 40%, significant investment and implementation of infrastructure is urgently needed.
It is clear that the offshore wind scene in Ireland is still in its infancy, but when the plans that the country has in place takes hold, it has a lot to gain. Not only will it hit its climate targets, but thousands of direct and indirect jobs will be generated for local communities. Offshore wind jobs will be created within the domestic supply chain across manufacturing, installation, operation and maintenance stages. For the Codling Wind Farm project alone, 1,000 new offshore wind jobs were generated during construction, and 75 full time local jobs are expected during its operation. The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland estimate that onshore and offshore wind jobs generated throughout the stages of Irish wind farms by 2040 could total 20,000.
Locally generated energy will also help Ireland reduce its dependency on imports. This will help secure its supply in the future and protect from potential pricing strikes in international markets.
Moving away from Russian exports
Russia’s invasion in Ukraine shook countries across the world and has had a catastrophic impact on global energy trade. Energy blackmail and sanctions made between Russia and the EU have made one thing clear – dependence on Russia’s fossil fuels can no longer be justified. Michael Martin, Republic of Ireland Prime Minister, declared that moving away from Russian oil presents an excellent and profitable opportunity for the country in exporting its wind power, and that ‘wind is Ireland’s oil’. A shake up of global energy trade could be exactly what the country needs to get their offshore wind game off the ground and serves a stark reminder to the rest of Europe that it is time to double down on the pathway to a renewable energy future.
Looking for an offshore wind job?
Offshore wind power in Ireland is set to take off, with multiple projects in the pipeline and plentiful benefits to reap. With 2030 targets in their midst and a collapse of the Russian energy empire, the pressure is on for the Emerald Isle to truly harness the power of their wind and take the country to the next level of their renewable energy fight. At Quanta, we have our finger on the pulse of international onshore and offshore wind recruitment and are experts at placing candidates across international markets. Interested in an offshore wind job? Get in touch with us today or check out our vacancies here.