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Cork Harbour has unparalleled potential for offshore floating wind energy

  • Cork Harbour identified as the gateway to transformative change in Europe’s transition to renewable energy
  • Calls for urgent government policy action to unleash floating offshore wind potential

Cork Harbour has the capacity to become an unparalleled hub for floating offshore wind energy in the Celtic Sea from 2025, presenting an opportunity for a new industrial sector to emerge in the region. This is according to a report published today, which calls on the government to enact key policy changes to ensure that Cork Harbour is in a position to unleash its potential as a key contributor to Ireland’s Climate Action targets, or risk losing out on significant private sector investment.

The European Commission estimates that Europe will need to produce 450GW of offshore wind energy by 2050. A resource assessment study of the Celtic Sea estimates that there is the potential for the development of up to 50GW of floating offshore wind capacity. Cork Harbour is in the process of being transformed into an offshore renewables hub by the private sector in a bid to realise this potential, with circa €200m of investments already underway by companies such as Green Rebel Marine, Mainport, Doyle Shipping Group (DSG), Simply Blue Energy, DP Energy and the Port of Cork. These companies are part of a group which has come together with Cork Chamber of Commerce to produce the Cork Harbour 2025: Ready to Float report. 

Conor Healy, Chief Executive, Cork Chamber of Commerce, said “Cork Harbour is perfectly positioned to support the development of floating offshore wind projects. The private sector investment that is already underway needs to be supported by progressive policy decisions at a government level, or we run the risk of Cork Harbour missing out on fulfilling its potential. This report outlines the opportunity for Cork to play a key role in harnessing the power of offshore wind to support Ireland’s critical climate action targets.

Floating offshore wind is the economic opportunity of our generation. The prospect exists for Cork Harbour to be the hub of a whole new industrial sector, something not seen since Ringaskiddy was designated as a cluster for pharmaceuticals by the IDA in the 1970s, with significant positive implications for the development of infrastructure and employment prospects in the region,” he added. 

The report finds that Cork Harbour already benefits from a number of key geostrategic advantages, which make it the optimal location for designation as a strategic hub for floating offshore wind projects under the Ireland 2040 National Development Plan. The report calls for the Cork County Development Plan 2022-2028 to be used to zone areas in Cork Harbour for land use activities in support of floating offshore wind. Further to this, it calls on the government to include floating wind projects in the Celtic Sea as a means of reaching its climate action target of 5GW of offshore wind by 2030.

As one of the largest natural harbours in the world, with extensive maritime and energy infrastructure, the harbour is positioned in close proximity to the Celtic Sea, and ideally located to support developments off the east, south and west coasts as well as projects off the coasts of France and the UK. Regional transport infrastructure, supply chain developments and the availability of a skilled workforce further reinforced the report’s conclusion that Cork Harbour presents a unique economic opportunity.

The report highlights the modern facilities available in the harbour, including the Cork Dockyard (privately owned by DSG), which is identified as the ideal base from which to operate an extensive offshore wind operation in the region. The report finds that the redevelopment of the Dockyard to a clean, green facility, due to be progressed for planning during 2021, will be an imperative project when it comes to supporting floating offshore wind developments. The plan for an extension to the deep-water berth at the Port of Cork Ringaskiddy Terminal is also highlighted as a key factor in ensuring that the harbour has the capacity to handle increased traffic.

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