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Brilliant minds finding solutions to complex problems, made easy to understand. Making complex easy.

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Making complex easy to understand: mainstreaming Ireland's offshore renewable energy supply

The government has embarked on a strategy to secure 3.5 GW of offshore renewable energy by 2030. Olivier Gaillot and Alun Williams discuss the benefits of Offshore renewable energy and what needs to be done in the future.

30 March 2020 | 3 min read
Olivier Gaillot Alun Williams
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Ireland's offshore renewables challenge

The Irish government has embarked on an ambitious strategy to secure 3.5 GW of offshore renewable energy by 2030.

With only one commercial scale offshore wind farm operating in Irish waters – the 25 MW Arklow Bank Wind Park Phase 1 - Ireland has a long way to go to realise the potential benefits of offshore wind energy, and provide a meaningful contribution to the EU-level renewable energy goal of 32% by 2030.

However, there are several submitted and planned commercial offshore wind developments currently in the pipeline. Combined these have the potential to produce around 12.5 GW of renewable energy. The challenge is to get these developments approved and built in time.

RPS has been working closely with both government and developers advancing offshore wind energy. This places us in a unique position to support clients to navigate the transitional regulatory system from the Foreshore Act to the Marine Planning and Development Management Bill (MPDM).

Supporting offshore development

Experience in navigating the planning and EIA complexities will be key to the successful, on time delivery of these offshore wind farm developments. During this transition our team have delivered a range of technical consultancy services to various government departments including:

  • Strategic Environmental Assessment and Appropriate Assessment informing the preparation of the National Marine Planning Framework: The National Marine Planning Framework, which is underpinned by the MPDM, is currently going through legislative procedure. It aims to streamline the consent process for marine planning and is expected to support the growth of offshore renewable energy.
  • Opportunity and constraints mapping: Working closely with Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, the Marine Institute and Government Departments and Agencies we developed an adaptive GIS spatial modelling tool. This facilitated the creation of maps identifying areas suitable for offshore renewable energy development taking into consideration environmental, industry and socio-cultural interests. The outputs supported the process of designating zones suitable for offshore renewable energy development in Ireland by focusing on the least constrained areas containing suitable conditions and appropriate technical resources.
  • Baseline Environmental Assessment: RPS prepared an environmental baseline study of renewable energy sources, energy storage and electricity grids in the North and Irish Seas for the European Commission DG Energy. This included the consideration of multiple scenarios, e.g. high renewables scenario, radial and meshed grid configurations; spatial analysis; and recommendations for the implementation of a regional concept of renewable energy systems (electricity transmission and generation infrastructure).

Navigating the complexities of a transitional regulatory framework will need specialist knowledge and experience. RPS delivers a combination of local expertise and knowledge of this regulatory framework. This is built on a successful international track record of delivering offshore wind development projects. We have an extensive network of in-house technical experts across key disciplines who apply their experience and capabilities to support clients through the EIA and consenting process. 

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Professional services across the asset lifecycle

As the global offshore wind industry matures, developers will seek to capitalise on the clean energy potential within local markets. RPS specialists are supporting renewable energy investment, innovation and commercialisation across the asset lifecycle.  Our services include:

  • Planning, environment and consent
  • Wind resource measurement and metocean services
  • Stakeholder engagement
  • Site investigation
  • Unexploded ordnance
  • Survey support
  • Marine Assurance and QHSSE and data management and visualisation.