Ireland has an unprecedented opportunity to build a position of strength as a supply chain to the world- wide ocean energy industry. The policy landscape – including required legislation and provision of a policy framework for ocean energy- is moving in a positive direction but a greater sense of urgency is required. Most importantly, Government is negotiating an export framework with the United Kingdom which could provide a market for all forms of Irish marine energy and exploit our formidable offshore energy natural resource with potentially significant new job creation.
The development of an export market with the UK would provide a market for Irish ocean energy, but enabling actions are still required. Firms in the supply chain are aware of the ocean energy opportunity but need the confidence which would be provided by more overt Government leadership of the sector and, most important, the development of real business opportunities.
In particular, the Irish Government needs to give the private sector the confidence to invest in ocean energy and enable business interests to build a base to serve world-wide markets for ocean energy equipment and services. This can be achieved through the provision of a:
- An allocation of ocean energy Renewable Energy Feed-In Tariff (REFIT) to incentivise early investment
- Clear consenting process administered by a single body (An Bord Pleanála) offering developers – whether of demonstration arrays or, later, of export oriented ocean energy farms - a clear route to a fully consented site...with a proactive landlord in the form of the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government
- Capital grants regime which addresses the needs of device developers for substantial support at this critical emergent stage of ocean energy technology
- Clear route to grid access for demonstration arrays and, in time, ocean energybased electricity exporters.
- A strong Ocean Renewable Energy Development Plan backed up by an implementation group with industry involvement
The absence of any of the elements would be a severe impediment to the growth of ocean energy in Ireland.