Chambers Ireland urges government to pick up the pace on renewables

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Chambers Ireland, the voice of business throughout Ireland, today (10th November 2022) welcomed the publication of the terms and conditions for the Offshore Renewable Energy Supply Scheme 1 (ORESS 1) by Minister for Environment, Climate, and Communications Eamon Ryan.

Speaking after the news, Shane Conneely, Head of Policy for Chambers Ireland said:

“This is a positive step forward, but the 2.5GW of capacity that is to be auctioned in ORESS 1 is the low hanging fruit. These are the projects that have been in gestation for years, some of them decades. They will go to auction late 2023/early 2024 and are not likely to begin producing electricity until 2026 or 2027 at the earliest.

“In the meantime, a further 5GW of capacity will be auctioned off as part of ORESS 2 during 2024.

“As things stand, we are not convinced that the planning apparatus is prepared for the enormous efforts that will be required of it to deliver these projects in the timelines that we need.

“The long delay in creating a feasible path to planning has hurt our reputation in this area with investors like Equinor and Shell pulling out of the Irish market because of the lack of planning certainty.

“Government only has 15-18 months to demonstrate that there has been a sea change in both the capacity and the enthusiasm our planning institutions have for offshore renewable energy projects.

“The Maritime Area Regulatory Authority (MARA) needs to be an IDA for the sea, rather than another An Bord Pleanála. It should act as a one-stop-shop for developers that seek to use our maritime resources for renewable projects, and its goal should be the delivery of those projects.

“Given the energy crisis which we are experiencing at the moment, Government should accelerate the pace with which floating offshore electricity projects are brought into being, and also reconsider policy around hybrid offshore projects that are linked to existing thermal plants along our southern and western shores.

“Chambers Ireland also calls on the government to both support the expansion of “permit-granting process for renewable energy projects” that are being proposed as an EU Council Regulation, and even more importantly to take advantage of the Article 2 ‘Overriding Public Interest’ clauses which allow for the fast-tracking of renewable energy projects and their associated grid connection infrastructure”