A Norwegian energy company that was planning to develop offshore wind power generation capacity off the coast of Ireland in partnership with ESB has confirmed that it has discontinued its participation in the project.
Equinor has been working with ESB since 2019 to identify and build a range of offshore projects around the east, south and west coasts.
This included plans for a floating wind farm with a generating capacity of up to 1.5 GW at Moneypoint off the coast of Claire and Kerry countries.
However, both Equinor and ESB have confirmed reports in The Irish Examiner that after reviewing its strategy to develop profitable growth in renewables, Equinor has decided to discontinue its early-stage offshore wind activities in Ireland.
The Social Security Board (ESB) said it was disappointed with the decision, but it in no way diminishes ESB’s ambition to offer a large-scale offshore wind portfolio in our home market.
“Equinor has reported that they are very impressed with the professionalism and capabilities of ESB and that they wish every success for ESB as they continue to develop a range of offshore wind projects in Irish waters,” ESB said.
A spokesperson for Equinor, formerly Statoil, told RTÉ News that there were several reasons for its decision not to proceed with its Irish plans and that such a decision was not unusual.
He said the company is constantly studying its portfolio to see how it can improve as it is constantly in and out of regions in Europe and elsewhere.
He said that based on the entirety of his analysis, he has determined that other geographies are more interesting or promising than Ireland.
The speaker acknowledged that the regulatory process was part of the overall decision.
Legislation to modernize and reform the offshore wind generation capacity development system is currently before Oireachtas and is expected to be enacted before the end of the year.
The Environmental Management Board (ESB) said it remains fully committed to developing and delivering a wide range of offshore wind projects in Irish waters following the decision.
« Important preparatory work, including forward license applications, have been completed, and ESB believes these projects will contribute significantly to the government’s target program of 5 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030, » she said.
Wind Energy Ireland regretted Equinor’s decision, but said it underscores what the industry has been warning for some time about the slow pace of planning and regulatory reform.
“We are confident that we will be able to deliver large-scale offshore wind energy and connect projects before the end of the decade,” said Noel Conniff, CEO of Wind Energy Ireland.
« But this decision simply confirms what we have been saying for some time. We are not reforming Ireland’s planning and regulatory framework fast enough to develop the offshore wind we will need to meet the targets in the Climate Action Plan. »
« This leads to a lack of confidence in the industry and the international supply chain that the government must address, » he added.
Offshore wind is of central importance to Ireland’s plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions targets in the energy sector.
‘Huge’ number of offshore wind developers entering Irish market despite Equinor . hit
The Climate Action Secretary said that while some offshore wind developers are leaving the market, there is a « huge » number entering the market.
Eamonn Ryan said there are more than 70 developers of various types in the sector.
« We want as many different developers as possible, and there’s a great many coming. Some are pulling out; we’re observing and listening to what they have to say, » the minister stated.
However, Mr Ryan insisted there was a solution to the problems that Equinor had highlighted in the form of the offshore area planning bill.
Speaking this morning on his way to Cabinet, Mr. Ryan said the planning and regulatory regime for offshore wind assistance is coming and will be through Oireachtas before Christmas.
Mr. Ryan said Ireland would see offshore wind build up on a large scale over the next four to five years.
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