Thursday 12th May 2021

The Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC) has published the framework for Ireland’s future offshore electricity transmission system, which will facilitate the expansion of offshore wind energy to help the country meet its greenhouse gas emissions targets.

Speaking today, Thursday 13 May, Minister Eamon Ryan TD said:

Meeting the ambitious goal of 70% renewable electricity by 2030 will require development of significant offshore renewable energy over the coming decade. What’s really important is that this policy is a further step towards building that renewable sustainable resource right here in Ireland. It will give us energy security, and it will also help us to reduce our carbon emissions. Over the next decade we will be electrifying our transport and other systems and we will need electric power from sustainable resources to do that. Offshore wind is a win-win for local communities and for Ireland.

Meeting the objective of 5 GW of installed offshore wind generation by 2030 requires simultaneous development of various policy, legislative and regulatory work streams. These include the establishment of a new regulatory consenting regime for the offshore renewable energy sector in Ireland, a route to market for future offshore wind projects through technology-specific auctions within the EU state-aid approved Renewable Energy Support Scheme (RESS), and the development of a new framework for Ireland’s future offshore electricity transmission system.

The framework, and associated new policy, which was approved by government in April, following a public consultation in summer 2020, will provide for the development, operation and ownership of Ireland’s offshore electricity transmission system. In addition, it will provide necessary clarity to the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU), EirGrid, ESB Networks, local communities, the renewable energy industry, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other stakeholders ahead of the first of three scheduled offshore wind-specific Renewable Energy Support Scheme (RESS) auctions that will enable Ireland to meet the 5GW objective by the end of this decade.

The new offshore transmission system policy approved by Government includes:

·      A phased transition from the current decentralised offshore transmission system model to a centralised model over the course of this decade, to take place in line with three scheduled offshore RESS auctions. The enduring centralised model, with transmission system assets to be planned, developed, owned and operated by EirGrid, has been identified as delivering maximum societal benefits.

·       In the First Phase, to coincide with the first offshore RESS auction, it is envisaged that the offshore renewable projects that are successful in the first offshore RESS auction will develop the associated offshore transmission system requirement.

·      In the Second Phase, to coincide with the second offshore RESS auction, the development of the offshore transmission system may be carried out by either renewable energy projects, and/or EirGrid.

·     In the Third Phase, to correspond with the third offshore RESS auction, the offshore transmission system will be exclusively developed by EirGrid, with maritime areas in which renewables development may take place, to be provided for by the second Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan (OREDP II).

·     The designation of EirGrid as the system operator and asset owner of Ireland’s offshore electricity transmission system, with ownership resting with EirGrid at all stages of the phased transition, regardless of whether the grid has been developed by the individual renewable energy projects or by EirGrid. Transmission system assets to be owned by EirGrid will include the high voltage transmission circuits and associated onshore and offshore transmission infrastructure connecting offshore generation sites to the existing onshore transmission system, as well as any necessary offshore reinforcements to accommodate electricity flows.

 The policy statement is available on gov.ie