Dr James G Carton and Bill Duggan explained in their research article the ins and outs of Ireland’s offshore wind resource potential, which can be divided into two sections: fixed bottom and floating installations. While floating offshore wind is an emerging technology, fixed offshore wind would be considered a more mature technology.

Floating offshore wind is currently being rolled out in other countries, such as France which has just succeeded in completing a 25MW floating offshore installation close to Marseille, and also held the initial floating offshore wind auction this year for a 250MW site based in south Brittany, alongside two additional auctions to follow later this year in the Mediterranean Sea. There are also planned tenders in Norway, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Scotland, and Greece in the coming years. 

Many challenges

Dr Carton and Duggan continued by explaining that Ireland, however, will be waiting until at least 2030 before rolling out floating offshore wind development in the Atlantic due to many challenges in the way: “Floating offshore wind in the Atlantic faces challenges and in particular in the harsh environment of the Atlantic Ocean off the west coast of Ireland. Challenges such as hydrodynamic, aerodynamic, and structural interactions particularly in severe weather, all have to be catered for. 

"Installation and maintenance are also a problem as being able to access the units to do maintenance in this environment is a challenge. But it is believed that these will be overcome in the coming years, through innovation, design, and more durable materials.”

The research article states that there are many opportunities in the Irish and Celtic Sea for floating offshore wind “in a more benign sea environment”, yet we do not have the ports in Ireland to support this idea. Potential locations for these particular ports have included Foynes, Bantry, and Bremore. While Rosslare was also a consideration, it “does not seem to have the depth for floating offshore wind”. 

The port requirements for floating offshore wind turbines differ from those for fixed bottom offshore turbines. For fixed bottom offshore wind construction, the process begins with the installation of the foundations, which can be either monopiles or gravity-based structures.

Dr Carton and Mr Duggan said: “The question that is raised is, what is the strategy or more to the point what is the government/industry plan for Irish ports to be able to support not only fixed based offshore wind turbines but also equally support the installation of future floating offshore wind turbines in the Irish and Celtic Sea, ahead of deployment in the west Atlantic.“

Read the full article on the Irish Examiner at: https://www.irishexaminer.com/opinion/commentanalysis/arid-41422483.html