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Ireland

Supporting Policies for Ocean Energy



NATIONAL STRATEGY
 

The Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan (OREDP)
Ireland’s Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan (OREDP) published in 2014 highlights Ireland’s focus on stimulating industry-led projects for the development and deployment of ocean energy devices and systems. The OREDP identifies resources for increasing indigenous production of renewable electricity, contributing to reductions in our greenhouse gas emissions, improving the security of our energy supply and creating jobs in the green economy. The OREDP sets out key principles, policy actions and enablers for the delivery of Ireland's significant potential in this area. An Interim Review of the OREDP was published in May 2018. This describes progress to date and the challenges that have emerged since initial publication in 2014 and identifies areas that need to be prioritised or require attention. The development of a new Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan is due to commence in 2021. The new OREDP will set out the Government’s policy for the sustainable development of our abundant offshore renewable energy resources.

National Energy and Climate Plan
In accordance with EU law, Ireland’s draft National Energy & Climate Plan (NECP) 2021-2030 was submitted to the European Commission in December 2018. The draft NECP took into account energy and climate policies developed up to that point, the levels of demographic and economic growth identified in the Project 2040 process and included all of the climate and energy measures set out in the National Development Plan 2018-2027.
In 2019, the NECP was updated to incorporate all planned policies and measures that were identified up to the end of 2019 and which collectively deliver a 30% reduction by 2030 in non-ETS greenhouse gas emissions (from 2005 levels). Trajectories for ocean energy production in Ireland of 30 MW by 2030 and 110 MW by 2040 are included in this Plan.

Climate Action Plan
The Climate Action Plan was first developed in 2019 and put in place a suite of actions, across all government departments, to mitigate the impacts of climate disruption. The plan largely complemented the targets set out in the NECP. However, in 2020 a new government increased Irelands ambitions and committed to achieving a 7% annual average reduction in greenhouse gas emissions between 2021 and 2030. Ireland is currently developing policies and measures to meet this target via an update to the Climate Action Plan and intend to integrate these into a revision of the NECP. In addition, under the proposed Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill, targets to reach reductions in emissions by 2030 will be enshrined in law.

MARKET INCENTIVES

The new Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) is being developed under the aegis of the Climate Action Plan and commits to 70% of electricity from renewable sources by 2030. The RESS has been designed within a competitive auction-based, cost effective framework and the Scheme will provide for a renewable electricity (RES-E) ambition of 70% by 2030.

The Scheme aims to deliver a broader range of objectives including:
  • Providing pathways and supports for communities to participate in renewable energy projects
  • Broadening the renewable technology mix (the diversity of technologies)
  • Increasing energy security, energy sustainability and ensuring the cost effectiveness of energy policy.Ireland will increase the volumes and frequencies of the RESS auctions to deliver on the 70% renewable electricity target by 2030. Reaching 70% renewable electricity on the grid will be one of the world’s highest levels of renewable penetration.
The RESS will include a range of measures to support community participation including a proposed category for community owned projects and a citizen investment scheme. There will be approximately six RESS auctions up to 2030. These auctions are expected to connect circa 13,000 GWh of renewable electricity.
Terms and conditions are currently being prepared for auctions to provide a route to market for offshore technologies. The second RESS auction is scheduled to commence qualification in 2021.
 
PUBLIC FUNDING PROGRAMMES

SEAI Research, Development Demonstration Fund

The SEAI National Energy Research Development and Demonstration (RD&D) Funding Programme invests in innovative energy RD&D projects which contributes to Ireland's transition to a clean and secure energy future. The key programme objectives include the following:
Accelerate the development and deployment in the Irish marketplace of competitive energy-related products, processes and systems
Support solutions that enable technical and other barriers to market uptake to be overcome
Grow Ireland's national capacity to access, develop and apply international class RD&D
Provide guidance and support to policy makers and public bodies through results, outcomes and learning from supported energy projects.Calls are run annually to encourage projects from all renewable technologies.
 


Consenting processes



Update: May 2021

MARINE SPATIAL PLANNING POLICY

Ireland’s first marine spatial plan, the National Marine Planning Framework (NMPF), is currently progressing through the parliamentary approval processes before it can be formally adopted and submitted to the European Commission. The NMPF sets out the Irish Government's long-term planning objectives and priorities for the management of Ireland’s maritime area over a 20-year time frame. It will be underpinned by new legislation (see above) and a Marine Policy Statement. The plan sets out specific objectives and marine planning policies for all the activities taking place in Ireland's waters, from aquaculture through to waste water treatment. All these activities are contextualised within the pillars of their economic, environmental and social considerations. The NMPF forms a critical basis for future decision-making by marine decision-makers who will be obliged to implement the NMPF objectives when making decisions. As such, consideration of NMPF policies should shape decisions e.g. content of plans, conditions in consents. The competent authority for MSP in Ireland is the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage with scientific and technical support provided by the Marine Institute.

MARITIME AREA (PLANNING) BILL (forthcoming)
Significant progress has been made in relation to policy for offshore renewable development. Ireland’s ambitions for the offshore renewable energy sector are contingent on delivering an effective and efficient consenting and regulatory regime for offshore renewable energy. This will provide certainty to project promoters and provide a pathway to realising the necessary investment in offshore renewable energy.

The Department of Housing, Local Government & Heritage is currently working on the Maritime Area (Planning) Bill, formerly known as the Marine Planning and Development Management (MPDM) Bill. The MAP Bill will provide the legal basis for Ireland’s new marine planning system (see below), provide for the management of development in the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf, and contains provisions relating to forward planning, State consents, development management, licensing and permitting of activities, and enforcement.

The new consenting system will streamline procedures by using a single consent principle: one State consent (Maritime Area Consent (MAC)) to enable occupation of the Maritime Area and one development consent (planning permission), with a single environmental assessment. The passage of the legislation has been prioritised to ensure that the new consenting model, as well as implementation of a new offshore grid connection policy that lines up with the RESS auction timeframes will ultimately deliver our 2030 targets.

This system will be overseen by a new Maritime Area Regulatory Authority (MARA). MARA will have responsibility for granting Maritime Area Consents; granting licences for scheduled activities, including environmental surveys; ensuring robust compliance and enforcement measures and managing the existing portfolio of State foreshore licences and leases.

The new legislation will also provide for Designated Marine Area Plans (formerly Strategic Marine Activity Zones in MPDM Bill). Any Minister, local authority or State agency will be able to propose a DMAP for one or more area, but each DMAP will be a matter for collective Government consideration under the NMPF. There will also be opportunities for public participation and consultation on proposed DMAPs and proposed DMAPs will be subject to environmental assessment (SEA and AA). All DMAPs, when made, will form part of the NMPF, thereby becoming a binding consideration for marine decision makers.

Until such times as the legislation is enacted the old system will apply. As such only site investigation licences are being processed; no new commercial scale deployment leases will be issued until MAP is in place.

AUTHORITIES INVOLVED
The competent authorities currently involved in consenting for offshore energy projects are:

  • Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage (DHLGH) – responsible for consenting of activities/developments on the foreshore (HMW to 12-mile territorial sea limit). This will change when the MAP Bill is enacted.
  • Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC) – responsible for climate action and environmental policy areas and also energy policy.
  • Maritime Area Regulatory Authority (MARA) – will be responsible for granting Maritime Area Consents; licences for scheduled activities, including environmental surveys; ensuring robust compliance and enforcement measures and managing the existing portfolio of State foreshore licences and leases once the governing legislation is enacted.
  • The Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) – responsible for authorising and licensing construction of new generating stations and their subsequent operation.
  • EirGrid and ESB – transmission and distribution operators, respectively.
  • Local planning authorities or An Bord Pleanála (ABP, the Irish national independent planning body) – responsible for consenting onshore components of development or development classified as ‘strategic infrastructure’ (see https://www.pleanala.ie/en-ie/strategic-infrastructure-development).

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT
An EIA is assessed on a case-by-case basis. In the case of a proposed development on the foreshore, DHLGH formally decides as part of the foreshore consenting process whether or not a project is likely to have significant effects on the environment.

DHLGH undertakes a screening exercise in respect of each application to determine if an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is required. Where a proposed development also requires planning consent for development onshore, the relevant planning authority (a local authority or An Bord Pleanála) as part of the planning process will decide if an EIA is required or not.

In the case of a proposed development on the foreshore, if an EIA is required the foreshore lease/license application to DHLGH will have to be accompanied by an Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR) in accordance with section 13A(1)(c) of the Foreshore Act, 1933 as amended.

CONSULTATION
Currently the provisions of the EU’s Public Participation Directive (2003/35/EC) are applied to foreshore consenting through the European Communities (Foreshore) Regulations 2009 (S.I. No. 404 of 2009) and the European Union (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Foreshore) Regulations 2012 (S.I. No. 433 of 2012). These regulations amend the Foreshore Act and apply to foreshore consent applications subject to EIA. These regulations provide an enhanced level of public participation and information sharing on environmental matters. It is anticipated that consultation requirements will be incorporated into the new Maritime Area (Planning) Bill. 

GUIDANCE AND ADVICE
The following guidance exists:

  • Guidance notes for pre-application consultation and investigate licenses available on the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (DECLG) website.
  • Guidance for Authorization to Construct and License to Generate are available on the Commission for Energy regulation website.
  • Guidance on Marine Baseline Ecological Assessments & Monitoring Activities for Offshore Renewable Energy Projects Parts 1 [General] and 2 [Technical] (April 2018) Available from: https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/3d6efb-guidance-documents-for-offshore-renewable-energy-developers/
  • Guidance on Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Natura Impact Statement (NIS) Preparation for Offshore Renewable Energy Projects is also available from the same link


TEST CENTRES
Usually deployment in designated test centres are already pre-consented so developers do not have to submit a full application comprising all the typical consents providing certain initial conditions are met.

The Galway Bay Test Site is currently operated as a pre-consented test site where developers may test their quarter scale devices. Application for a lease to continue testing operations at the Galway Bay Test Site has been submitted to the DPHLGH for consideration.

In the case of the Atlantic Marine Energy Test Site, a lease is in place for wave energy developers to access the site. Currently work is in progress to prepare the site for offshore cable deployment and grid connection.
 

The OES is organised under the auspices of the International Energy Agency (IEA) but is functionally and legally autonomous. Views, findings and
publications of the OES do not necessarily represent the views or policies of the IEA Secretariat or its individual member countries.