Ireland must streamline consent for offshore renewables if it wants to meet climate targets

Cornwall Insight is calling on the Irish government to use the development of its new Maritime Area Consent (MAC) regime to streamline the process for offshore renewables and help get Ireland back on track for meeting its climate targets.

The process for marine area consent has been dogged with delays for many years. In August 2021 the government published the full text of the Maritime Area Planning (MAP) Act 2021, which seeks to establish a development management regime from the high-water mark to the outer limit of Ireland’s continental shelf. The new system will incorporate consent for the occupation of the maritime area, through MACs and licencing, and establish a new agency, the Maritime Area Regulatory Authority (MARA), to manage the occupation of the maritime area and to enforce the provisions of the regime

Ireland has been struggling to meet climate targets outlined in the Climate Action Plan (CAP) 2021 and are far behind many European countries in their efforts to increase renewables, ranking just 20th out of the 27 EU states. The government hopes that the MAP act, with the creation of the MAC regime as a first step in the new planning process, will help them in their climate ambitions. They are looking to increase the proportion of renewable electricity to up to 80% by 2030, with an increased target to achieve up to 5GW of installed offshore wind generation by 2030. The government states that the 5GW target will be primarily met through development of offshore renewable energy in Ireland’s eastern and southern coastal regions.

The MAC regime will assess the viability of proposed offshore renewable energy developers in several key areas, including in respect of their financial and technical competency, in advance of developers proceeding to environmental studies.

Cathal Ryan, Consultant at Cornwall Insight said:

“We welcome the plans with cautious optimism. For many years the system of marine area consenting has come under fire for being slow and outdated. If Ireland want to realise their ambitions and meet climate targets, then the development of offshore renewables is a significant step.

“It is however very time sensitive, and Ireland cannot afford to have any more delays to consent. The Irish government must ensure that the new plans are clear and unambiguous from the get-go, so offshore wind can be brought into the market with minimal disruption.

“Ireland currently suffers from a volatile energy market, especially in renewables, with the majority coming from variable sources. The development of offshore renewables will also be essential to bringing stability and predictability into Ireland’s wholesale markets.

“Provided the plans are brought in quickly and efficiently, this should bring many benefits to the Irish renewables effort, however, the establishment of the MARA in tandem with assessing the relevant projects needs to be resourced adequately.”


Notes to Editors

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