Opportunity and Constraints Mapping for the Deployment of Offshore Renewable Energy in Ireland

RPS was appointed by the SEAI to provide expert support to the ORESG – Environment Sub Group from February 2015 until February 2017.

One of the main studies RPS undertook was the production of the Opportunity and Constraints Mapping for the deployment of offshore renewable energy in Ireland. This involved working closely with SEAI, the Marine Institute and various government Departments and agencies to develop an adaptive GIS spatial modelling tool that allowed the creation of maps indicating areas suitable for offshore renewable energy development taking into consideration other legitimate users of the sea in terms of environmental, industry and socio-cultural interests. These outputs will help inform the process of designating zones suitable for offshore renewable energy development in Ireland by focusing on the least constrained areas that contain suitable conditions and appropriate technical resources.

Key details

Project name

Opportunity and Constraints Mapping for the Deployment of Offshore Renewable Energy in Ireland

Client

Sustainable Energy Authority Ireland (SEAI) / Marine Institute / Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE)

Location

Irish Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)

Services provided

  • Data collation and criteria development
  • Spatial modelling to interpret the criteria and produce maps
  • A Multiple-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA)

Challenge

The Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan (OREDP) published in February 2014 sets out Government Policy in relation to the sustainable development of Ireland’s offshore renewable energy resources. An Offshore Renewable Energy Steering Group (ORESG) was established to oversee the implementation of the OREDP via three work streams: Environment, Infrastructure and Job Creation.

Working jointly, the Environment and the Infrastructure Working Groups of the ORESG commissioned the development of criteria and mapping of opportunities and constraints for wind, wave and tidal technology, to inform the spatial development of the offshore renewable energy sector in Ireland.

Solution

The study ultimately presented spatial mapping outputs of an adaptable model that can be used in the process of designating zones suitable for development. The mapping outputs detailed areas of high and low constraint for development and will help inform the process of designating zones suitable for offshore renewable energy development in Ireland.

  • RPS identified and gathered criteria datasets from a variety of sources (including Ireland’s Marine Atlas and the Offshore Renewable Energy Plan Strategic Environmental Assessment), ranked these in order of importance using a relative influence value (which indicated the importance placed on individual criteria)
  • The GIS spatial model was used to interpret the criteria and produce several maps detailing areas with potential for offshore renewable energy development.
  • A Multiple-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) tool/approach was used for the spatial planning and decision-making based on an existing Crown Estate model called ‘Marine Resource System (MaRS)’

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