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De-risking offshore wind energy development

1 Apr 2022
Andy speaking at the latest OREDP II meeting

Our planet is in crisis! There you go, I’ve said it. It’s what we all know but won’t take on board. We absolutely must decarbonise our lifestyle, society, and our economy and simply reduce humanity’s footprint to sustainable levels. And we are way-off sustainable.

To decarbonise energy production, we have to massively embrace renewable energy (and I am not a believer in the nuclear solution with its extremely long-term nuclear waste legacies and “low risk but scorched earth” accident impacts).

To expand renewables, we need space and that for Ireland means offshore where the wind regime is more reliable. Ireland has one of the best wind resources globally and we have the potential to be an energy exporter. To fulfil Ireland’s commitment (and we must) to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2030 (Climate Action Plan 2021), offshore wind development is essential and at scale. The Marine Areas Planning Act 2021 (MAP) enables this. Last week, Minister Eammon Ryan announced the start of the licencing process by releasing the Marine Areas Consent (MAC) Assessment for Phase One Projects. But it won’t be easy as there is a lot to do in a limited time.

This week I joined the Advisory Board of the OREDP II (Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan 2). I heard what the government is doing to progress licencing, progress the massive infrastructural developments needed for our ports, and upgrade the power grid to plug it all in!

We also showcased our IMORE work with SSE and GDG on the Braymore Site (offshore Dundalk) with ex-UCC Marine Geologist Dr Mark Coughlan (UCD) at the iCRAG De-Risking Ireland’s Offshore Wind Potential Workshop at the National Maritime Museum. It was good to discuss new opportunities with other developers and highlight the world-leading expertise and capacity across iCRAG (SFI Research Centre in Applied Geosciences) to underpin this challenge of maintaining this planet as a liveable space.

As Russia invades Ukraine and disrupts European fossil fuel supplies, even if you are ambivalent to the threats facing all of us and especially our up-and-coming generations, then surely the inflationary and economic woes war is imposing on us must galvanise us to give up oil and gas and turn on the wind power.

I am proud of what UCC Marine Geosciences can do to apply our research and help make a better future for us all.

Professor Andy Wheeler, Head of the UCC Marine Geosciences Research Group

Marine Geosciences Research Group

University College Cork

School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, North Mall Campus, University College Cork, North Mall, Cork City, T23 TK30