The study, which looks at how marine renewable energy can be created, was carried out by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) and the Irish Maritime Development office (IMDO) explains how the future growth of the UK’s marine renewable industry will be supported by the development of Ireland’s shipping and ports facilities.

As part of the Irish Shipping and Ports Requirements for the Ocean Energy Industry study, an analysis of the infrastructure of existing ports and shipping facilities were carried out by the SEAI and IMDO to help ascertain the level of support available for the industry’s development.

In addition, it investigated which areas would be most effective to place fixed offshore wind and tidal installations, and as a result, a framework of first phase port locations for offshore wind, wave and tidal developments based on the geographical distribution of renewable energy resources around the coast have been identified.

It concluded the east coast of Ireland would be best placed to support fixed offshore wind and tidal installations, while the south and west coasts are better placed to support wave, fixed and floating wind installations.

According to SEAI, the development of port locations is critical for Ireland to be seen as a base for construction and the assembly of wind turbines and ocean energy devices.

SEAI’s head of ocean energy development, Eoin Sweeney, said: “We have a significant opportunity given the very large marine renewable resources available off both our east and west coasts, but we now need to look at the investment in infrastructure required if we are to properly capitalise on the current opportunities in this area.

“The concern is that if these facilities are not available, offshore wind developers and wave and tidal manufacturers could source the manufactured equipment for projects outside Ireland.”

SEAI and IMDO have now recommended the first phase of dedicated port locations be brought forward. In addition, they have also specified further requirements for shipping support vessels in order for the vessels to effectively support large offshore renewable energy developments.

It is anticipated that most of Ireland’s marine renewable energy developments will be focused on the fixed offshore wind industry in the future.

Carys Matthews

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