Policy changes by the Government regarding offshore wind projects are in danger of damaging Ireland’s ambitions to become a global leader in renewable energy, the Director General of Engineers Ireland has said.

Concerns have emerged within industry that developers will no longer be able to choose their own sites for offshore projects, seriously threatening immediate project plans, jobs, and the Government’s targets to increase Ireland’s offshore wind capacity. 

Speaking during STEPS Engineers Week 2023, Damien Owens, Director General of Engineers Ireland, said: “Ireland has the potential to become a net exporter of renewable energy, and to become a leader in EU Energy Strategy. We must accelerate the route to market for innovative energy solutions such as offshore wind with support from Government policy around procurement, planning and execution.

“It is essential that the Government supports innovative solutions in the development of floating offshore wind turbine platforms, to position Ireland in taking a leading role in developing this technology. Above all, our coastal communities, fishers, industry, and Government must all work together to build, and agree on, new installations for offshore wind production.

“Offshore wind and the renewable energy sector, as a whole, presents huge potential for Ireland.  There is also tremendous potential to create a significant employment in providing the key technical services to support offshore activities. I am aware that Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan, TD, has recently launched a public consultation on the draft second Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan, and I would encourage all key stakeholders to put forward their views to create the best possible outcome and opportunities for offshore wind energy development in Ireland,” he concluded.

Sustainability and innovation are both central themes of this year’s STEPS Engineers Week. The green economy offers unparalleled career opportunities and over the course of this year’s campaign, running until 10 March, Engineers Ireland is encouraging our young aspiring engineers to explore engineering and how they too can play a pivotal role in sustainable development in the future.

Damien Owens was speaking as STEPS Engineers Week continues nationwide. From Carndonagh to Crosshaven and Gorey to Galway, engineers from all over Ireland are engaging with their communities to showcase their profession and highlight the amazing ways Irish engineers are pushing the limits of creativity and ingenuity. Schools, libraries and third level institutions will also join STEM performers in bringing the creative and dynamic world of engineering to life in classrooms across the country.

Mr Owens’ comments also came ahead of the publication of Engineers Ireland’s latest report which will examine electrical energy production in Ireland.

One of the biggest issues with wind electricity is the variable nature of its production, with power production depending on the weather conditions. However, with Ireland’s position on the edge of the Atlantic, a near-constant wind is generated on the west coast of the country. At present, The RV Celtic Explorer, a multi-purpose research vessel operated by the Marine Institute in Galway, is currently mapping the entire seabed as part of the ‘Infomar’ project which will make Ireland one of the first countries in the world to have fully mapped its entire seabed area. Ireland can use this data to create a vast offshore wind energy infrastructure.

Commenting on the need for increased infrastructure to support Ireland’s energy development potential, Damien Owens added: “Investment in national electrical infrastructure is essential to achieve our renewable energy ambition. Ireland has a high potential for innovation in energy management and floating offshore wind generation. We have the potential to be a leader in green energy in Europe and become a net exporter of green energy to support the REPowerEU Plan40 but only if we have suitable infrastructure and physical connections to the EU.

“Offshore wind is one area where progress must be made. If Ireland maximised its full potential for renewable energy, it could and should aim to become a net exporter of electricity. To maximise the full wind potential, significant infrastructure would be needed to connect wind turbines in the west to interconnectors in the east.”


For more information on European Commission’s REPowerEU Plan40, please visit: https://ireland.representation.ec.europa.eu/news-and-events/news/repowereu-plan-rapidly-reduce-dependence-russian-fossil-fuels-and-fast-forward-green-transition-2022-05-18_en

STEPS Engineers Week 2023

Taking place from 4 - 10 March, STEPS Engineers Week provides primary and secondary school children with the opportunity to explore the creative world of engineering and the diverse opportunities a career in the sector can offer. The week-long celebration of the engineering profession in Ireland is managed by the Engineers Ireland’s STEPS programme and funded by the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science and industry leaders Arup, the EPA, ESB, Intel and Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII). This year’s STEPS Engineers Week also coincided with World Engineering Day for Sustainable Development, a UNESCO International Day of Celebration of engineers and engineering, and the contribution of the worlds’ engineers for a better, sustainable world. 

For more information and to get involved in STEPS Engineers Week 2023, visit: www.engineersireland.ie/schools