Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 1 March 2022

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action

Energy - Ambition and Challenges: Discussion

Mr. Jim Dollard:

As I understand it, the Senator's question was in regard to any potential resistance to the floating offshore wind auctions. Before I get to that, it is important to make the key point that Ireland has been incredibly successful in developing a renewables industry over the past 15 years. The penetration of wind in this country is world leading. That is because of the ambition taken ten to 15 years ago. In terms of the auction process for floating, I would not say there is resistance. The Government has set out a target of 5 GW. That is an ambitious target from a standing start. That is to be welcomed. What we are highlighting now is that the technology is moving very quickly in terms of floating. The cost of floating technology versus fixed will fall rapidly over the next decade. It will be the end of this decade or early in the next decade before we reach parity but it will fall rapidly. Along with others in the industry, we are highlighting that the progress needs to be reflected and updated in our ambition. The Department has commenced a consultation process. It is seeking inputs in terms of offshore wind in the next two auctions. We will be strongly proposing that floating offshore wind should be now segregated in that proposal. It is about an iteration. The ambition is there. It is now about how we iterate and continue to accelerate our ambition as we go forward. We think it is very important that there is a separate auction for that 1 GW of floating. That consultation process will be very important.

In terms of resistance to hybrids, again the State has shown significant ambition around hybrids. Hybrid technology is in place in Ireland for many years. The climate action plan calls for hybrids. It is a matter of policy for the State to embrace hybrids. What we are saying uniquely now is that the utilisation of hybrids for offshore wind is a much bigger issue. The ability to access transmission infrastructure in the timeline we are looking for will be extremely difficult. That is not a criticism. It is just a fact it will be extremely difficult. We have infrastructure in place. We need to open up that infrastructure and to make it competitive in terms of the utilisation of it in the coming auctions. We will be proposing in the upcoming consultation that hybrids would be accelerated in their utilisation and that the infrastructure and the regulatory structures that are required would be developed. Dr. O'Grady might want to add to that in terms of what those regulatory structures might look like.