A new maritime planning regime has been announced, which will enable the development of offshore wind farms.
Offshore wind farms are needed if Ireland is to achieve its climate targets and reduce dependence on imported gas and oil.
The Government has pointed to renewable energy as a way to increase energy security and its climate action plan set a target of at least 5GW of power from offshore wind farms by 2030 – greater than Ireland’s current total wind capacity.
Those wind farms will need planning permission and the first phase of that will be to get a Marine Area Consent.
There are seven proposed wind farms with a combined capacity of around 3GW in the first batch to be considered.
Six are off the east coast and one is off the coast of Conamara (Connemara).
Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan will issue the consents, which are expected to happen in the second half of this year.
The Maritime Area Planning Agency should be established by early next year when it will take responsibility for the area.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr Ryan said Ireland’s sea area is seven times its land area and “we need to tap into that”, share it with our neighbours and use it as part of a balanced European grid system.
“Not every project is likely to get planning, but I expect most of them will,” he said.
“By the end of this decade, that target which Government set two years ago – which was seen as a very ambitious target – now because of what’s happening in Ukraine, I think that’s the minimum of our ambition.”
Mr Ryan said a further option is to convert some offshore wind into hydrogen, which is a way of storing wind power.
He said that in his view, Ireland’s greatest security comes from relying on its own resources “not on imports”.
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