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Minister Rabbitte launches Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan

wind turbines

Dublin, 7 February 2014

The Minister for Communications, Energy & Natural Resources, Mr Pat Rabbitte, T.D., today launched the Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan (OREDP) to provide a framework for the sustainable development of Ireland’s offshore renewable energy resources.

Speaking at the Ocean Energy Industry Forum in Dublin, the Minister said, “Ireland has a landmass of around 90,000 square kilometres, but a sea area of around 10 times that size, at 900,000 square kilometres. Ireland’s position at the Atlantic edge of the EU gives an almost unparalleled offshore energy resource, with suitable conditions available for the development of the full range of current offshore renewable energy technologies.”

The Minister went on to say, “The potential of the offshore renewable energy sector to be a source of sustainable employment and growth in the green economy has been consistently identified in Government economic planning and job creation strategies, and by the European Commission in its recent Communication on ‘Blue Energy’ – especially in coastal communities where job creation faces particular challenges.”

The Minister stressed the crucial importance of safeguarding the public interest in protecting our valuable marine environment, highlighting the fact that the OREDP is grounded in the principle that all development of offshore wind and ocean energy in Irish waters will be fully in line with Ireland’s EU and international environmental obligations and best practice. The Minster went on to re-state the importance of the citizen being at the heart of the transition to renewable energy – both onshore and offshore – and the importance of timely and transparent engagement with the public for all offshore renewable energy development.

The OREDP identifies the opportunity for Ireland to increase indigenous production of renewable electricity, thereby contributing to reductions in our greenhouse gas emissions, improving the security of our energy supply and creating jobs in the green economy. The implementation of the OREDP, led by DCENR, will be mechanism through which government action across the environmental, energy policy and economic development dimensions will be coordinated to support the offshore renewable energy sector to reach commercial viability.
ENDS


Note for editors:

The OREDP is designed to facilitate the development of offshore renewable energy across three key pillars – environmental sustainability, technical feasibility and commercial viability by coordinating action across all of the relevant Government policy areas.

Working in conjunction with existing structures such as the Marine Coordination Group, chaired by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, an Offshore Renewable Energy Steering Group (ORESG) will be established to oversee the implementation of the OREDP. Chaired by DCENR, the ORESG will have representation from the Departments of Environment, Community and Local Government (DECLG), Enterprise, Jobs & Innovation (DEJI), Agriculture, Food & the Marine (DAFM), Defence, Transport, Tourism & Sport (DTTAS), along with the Marine Institute, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), and the offshore renewable energy industry. The ORESG will also consult with other marine users in the course of its work. The Group will report to the Minister for Communications, Energy & Natural Resources. Both the OREDP and the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), carried out for the OREDP, will be reviewed before end 2017.

The ORESG will oversee the implementation of the OREDP through 3 workstreams:

o Environment – to ensure energy input to the new planning and consent architecture for development in the marine area (led by Department of Environment, Community & Local Government) and to take forward the findings and recommendations of the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and Appropriate Assessment (AA) carried out for the OREDP, to ensure robust environmental monitoring of offshore renewable energy development.

o Infrastructure – to support delivery of grid and port infrastructure (in the context of Grid 25 and the National Ports Policy), upon which the development of the offshore renewable energy sector is critically dependent.

o Job creation – the coordination of existing RD&D support for emerging ocean energy technologies, developing a supply chain for offshore renewable energy, exploring opportunities for international collaboration, working with State development agencies to attract investment, the introduction of an initial market support scheme for ocean energy (wave and tidal) and linking to on-going work to put in place an Intergovernmental Agreement for the export of renewable energy to the UK as a route to market for electricity generated by offshore wind.

In this way the OREDP will also provide critical input for planning decisions in the marine environment and the development of marine spatial planning in Ireland.

· The OREDP, and the documentation relating to the SEA and AA carried out for the Plan, can be found at www.dcenr.gov.ie/Energy/Sustainable+and+Renewable+Energy+Division/

· The European Commission’s Communication on Blue Energy – Action needed to deliver on the potential of ocean energy in European seas and oceans by 2020 and beyond can be found at http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=COM:2014:0008:FIN:EN:PDF


 

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