Planning underway for 36 wind farms located in Ireland’s waters

DUBLIN, Ireland: Ireland is in the planning stages for the creation of 36 offshore wind farms.

The wind farms would operate off of Ireland’s east, south and west coasts.

Plans call for 18 wind farms to be built in the Irish Sea, 11 along the south coast and seven in the Atlantic waters.

According to officials at industry body Wind Energy Ireland, the wind farms are to be completed by 2030.

It is in 2030 that the current renewable electricity generated in Ireland must more than double if targets in the national Climate Action Plan are to be met.

To reach this target, at least seven of the proposed wind farms need to be operating by 2030, according to Wind Energy Ireland chief executive Noel Cunniffe.

"We have 60 million tonnes (of carbon) in our sector to last us between 2021 and 2030. The unfortunate news is that we’ve used a third of that," Cunniffe said, as quoted by The Independent.

"Twenty million has been used in 2021 and 2022, so we’re a fifth of the way through the budget, but we’re a third of the way through the carbon that we’re allowed."

Cunniffe’s comments were made during a speech before 500 wind industry representatives gathered in Dublin for a two-day Wind Energy Ireland annual conference.

Last year, it was noted, Ireland saw 34 percent of its electricity produced by wind generation. According to government goals, that number must reach 80 percent of all power generated by renewables in 2030.

Plans call for the building of solar farms in Ireland, but officials note that wind power will be the largest contributor to generating Ireland’s power.

Of note, more than half the delegates at the conference have said that the largest barrier to be overcome to reach the 2030 goals is the nation’s planning system.

Most energy projects are sent to An Bord Pleanala for review and decision-making. However the board has a massive backlog of cases, key vacancies to fill and a shortage of expert staff members.

Cunniffe said the board’s problems have resulted in wind projects remaining in planning since 2017, and one going back to 2014.

Meanwhile, Matt Collins, assistant secretary in charge of energy at the Department of the Environment, said work is underway to ensure An Bord Pleanala can overcome this backlog.

"Every route is being explored to accelerate it," he said. "Skills is a challenge that the whole sector faces," noted Collins, as reported by The Independent.