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Irish supply chain primed to help UK meet ambitious 2030 offshore wind targets
- December 10, 2018

The commitment of the UK offshore wind industry to work with the UK Government on an ambitious and transformative sector deal will require a significant mobilisation of the supply chain, and Irish companies are ready to go.

The ambitious industry plan presented by the UK Offshore Wind Industry Council (OWIC) highlights the sector’s plans to generate 30GW of offshore wind power by 2030, helping to power more than one third of the UK’s electricity needs and strengthening the UK’s position as the global leader in offshore wind. The 2030 vision will require a £48Bn investment in UK infrastructural spending and support upwards of 27,000 skilled jobs.

Irish companies are ready and well positioned to help the UK meet its 2030 targets and enhance economic growth. This was illustrated during a recent Enterprise Ireland and SSE Offshore Wind Exchange at SSE’s Glasgow office. An Irish delegation of 15 companies met with senior SSE executives to discuss SSE’s future project plans, the direction of the UK offshore wind industry and to showcase the Irish expertise that can assist with maintaining and accelerating growth in the UK. Indeed, Enterprise Ireland research shows, that there are over 50 Irish companies with a proven capability in the offshore wind supply chain, while many companies possess the ability to quickly and effectively pivot in to the sector; to provide reliable and innovative products and services to an ever-growing industry.

There is a well-established history of Irish companies driving growth within the offshore wind sector, going back to Arklow Bank in 2004. Located 12km off Ireland’s East coast, Arklow Bank was one of the first offshore wind farms to be developed in either Ireland or the UK. Commissioned in 2004 by Irish owned Airtricity (now part of SSE plc), the windfarm brought over 25MW of clean renewable electricity to the grid. Airtricity subsequently brought their Arklow Bank experience to the 504MW Greater Gabbard offshore wind farm off the Suffolk coast, where construction was completed in 2012. The Irish influence in the UK can be further seen in the Hornsea One project off the Yorkshire coast. One of the world’s biggest (Round 3) windfarms, it was developed by Irish company, Mainstream Renewable Power, who also developed the Neart Na Gaoithe zone off the East coast of Scotland prior to its recent sale to EDF.

In addition to possessing a strong international reputation for developing offshore wind farms, Irish companies bring excellent geotechnical and environmental engineering experience to the offshore industry. For example, companies such as Gavin and Doherty Geosolutions work with offshore wind developers to identify uncertainties, risks and challenges in the design, installation and operations of offshore wind farms such as Neart na Gaoithe. When it comes to maintaining windfarms, Irish companies are to the fore again. Irish Sea Contractors work with Ørsted to provide subsea inspections for its offshore assets around the UK coast. The same company is also leading on innovation in the subsea cable repair supply chain with its patented Habitat solution. Other Irish companies, such as Xocean, use Unmanned Surface Vehicles to provide seabed mapping and turnkey data collections services for the offshore wind industry.

Vessel design and build is yet another strong area of Irish expertise. Irish vessel builders such as Mooney Boats and Arklow Marine have substantial experience building support vessels for the UK offshore wind industry, with several Irish companies also involved in vessel management.

Of course, with ever increasing renewable energy generation comes ever increasing demands on the electricity grid. Increased requirements for grid connections and the construction of power transmission and substation infrastructure will be a key element of the industry’s growth. Irish capability in this space can be seen in companies such as H&MV Engineering, Kirby Group Engineering and Gaeltec Utilities. Meanwhile, companies such as GridBeyond provide crucial grid-balancing technology solutions. With ever increasing offshore wind generation, demand side response services offered by GridBeyond are essential to ensure flexibility and a stable supply of electricity to the grid. The importance of grid solutions to the future of the energy industry is reflected in the establishment of an Enterprise Ireland Smart Grid cluster in 2018, reflecting the collective Irish capability in this space.

Furthermore, Ireland’s Universities and research centres such as the Centre for Marine and Renewable Energy (MaREI) have been at the forefront of the development of next generation technologies and systems.

With a new trading relationship between the UK and the EU on the horizon, Enterprise Ireland client companies remain wholeheartedly committed to working with and supporting our nearest neighbours in the development of its offshore wind industry. To further highlight this commitment to the UK market, Enterprise Ireland will host a UK industry delegation to Ireland in March 2019 to deepen collaboration and highlight the critical areas of support that the Irish supply chain can provide across the UK offshore wind industry.

Written by Darragh Cotter: Enterprise Ireland Cleantech Market Advisor.

For more information on Ireland’s capability in the offshore wind sector, please contact Darragh Cotter in Enterprise Ireland’s London office at Darragh.cotter@enterprise-ireland.com

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