Thursday, 16 September 2021
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
Wind Energy Generation
113. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the steps being made to ensure the urgent investment needed to prepare Rosslare Europort as the most strategically preferred port for the construction of an off-shore wind farm construction base; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44126/21]
Rosslare Europort is unique among the State-owned ports, as it is not a commercial company operating under the Harbours Acts but is instead operated on a commercial basis as a division of Iarnród Éireann with all investments funded from port revenues.
It is a Tier 2 Port under National Ports Policy and as the second largest RoRo port in the State has an important role in ensuring the continued movement of freight on and off the island of Ireland. Located on the east coast where the first Offshore Renewable Wind developments will progress, Rosslare Europort has the potential to service a range of windfarms in the Irish Sea. The Department is aware of a number of ports also examining the business potential of Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE).
The Department of Transport has been exploring options for the facilitation of ORE by the ports, including possible funding under the European Recovery and Resilience Facility. It was decided this would not be one of the projects going forward to Europe as part of Ireland’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan due to prioritization of other more mature projects that are in line with EU timelines to maximise Ireland’s overall funding.
However, the Department of Transport has successfully negotiated changes to the Connecting Europe Funding (CEF) criteria to allow EU funding for basic port infrastructure towards improving connectivity and for funding of port infrastructure for Offshore Wind Energy in the next 2021-2023 CEF Work Programme.
This will allow ports on the TEN-T Network, including Rosslare Europort, to apply for CEF funding for the development of ports´ facilities related to offshore wind farms.
The next call for applications will be published this month (September 2021). It is a competitive process and further application calls are expected in September 2022 and September 2023.
Successful applicants can obtain significant funding of up to 50% of eligible costs for studies and up 30% of infrastructure works costs.
Iarnród Éireann has met with Minister Ryan and outlined the feasibility for Rosslare Europort to service the emerging offshore wind sector in Ireland and the scale of the investment in Infrastructure needed, between €50m to €225m, depending on the option.
Department officials also met with Iarnród Éireann and Rosslare Europort recently to explore the potential for CEF funding for the Port, including for Offshore Wind Energy facilities. Rosslare Europort have advised the Department that they are progressing their plans for the development of ORE facilities at the port and that they will be applying for CEF funding under the CEF opening later this month.
As part of its ongoing assessment on options to ensure the provision of ORE facilities at ports , the Department, in conjunction with the IMDO, are also meeting with other ports and administrations to establish best practice in this regard in Europe. Cross departmental engagement between key Government Departments is ongoing in addition to direct engagement with the ORE sector and other relevant stakeholders to explore mechanisms for investment in ORE required port infrastructure. It is expected that this assessment will be finalised shortly.
The Department of Transport will continue to work with Rosslare Port as it progresses its plans for port infrastructure for serving the Offshore Wind sector while it also provides the necessary infrastructure to maintain RoRo freight activity at the port.
It is vital that Ireland can achieve its carbon emission reduction targets while exploiting the many opportunities for balanced regional development and the creation of jobs. It intended that our ports will be in position to facilitate the development of the Offshore Wind Energy sector around Ireland, contributing towards the Programme for Government target of 5 GW of offshore wind energy by 2030.