MICHAEL McGrath, the public expenditure and reform minister, has earmarked Cork as an important region in the country’s efforts to reduce emissions over the next number of years.
Speaking about the potential of offshore renewable energy, Mr McGrath said there had been something of a policy vacuum in recent years when it came to climate action, but that the country had made “a lot of progress already to correct that”.
For the first time, the country has in place a national maritime planning framework, a similar framework to the land-based national planning framework, but for maritime developments, as well as the Maritime Area Planning Bill, which is designed to streamline the overall approval and consent process for developments such as offshore wind renewables, which Mr McGrath said were “going to play such an important part of reaching our energy goals over the next number of years”.
He added: “If you look, for example, at last year, 43% of all electricity generated in Ireland came from renewable sources, primarily from onshore wind.
“I think we now need to see the emphasis move to offshore wind, and we have put in place a number of key policy developments that we believe will help to enable that,” he said.
He said the framework for Ireland’s offshore electricity transmission system had been published and an offshore renewable energy team would be established in the coming weeks.
“We will see competitive auctions put in place in the whole area of renewable energy electricity support scheme, so a lot of very ambitious plans.
“I’ve met with a lot of stakeholders who are looking at the wider Cork region, and we’re going to work with them hand in glove because we see huge potential here, and it dovetails from Government policy because we have to reduce our emissions. That means going from 43% of electricity generated from renewable sources to 70% over the next number of years, so major ambition. We’ve made good progress, but offshore is the future,” he said.
Mr McGrath made the comments while speaking at Cork Chamber’s Business Breakfast Live event this week.