The significant potential for people to be employed on boats and in crews during the construction and ongoing maintenance of offshore wind turbines was raised in the Dáil by Donegal Independent Deputy Thomas Pringle.
“Steps need to be taken now to ensure Irish companies can avail of these opportunities when these projects are commenced,” he said.
“We need to gear up to be able to avail of those opportunities,” he said during Question Time. “I am thinking particularly of the supply of vessels during the construction phase. There is huge potential in the case of one of the projects proposed at the moment because it is estimated that up to 40 vessels will be required. I know of a number of boatyards that would be in a position to construct those vessels if they were geared up for it and encouraged to go for that level of business, which is very significant. In terms of providing crew, we have many highly trained and skilled former and current fishermen working in the UK and Germany on these projects who would need minor upskilling to allow them to develop further and avail of these opportunities.”
In response, Minister Pat Rabbitte said the offshore renewable energy development plan, which he published last month, identifies an opportunity for Ireland to realise the potential of our offshore energy resources by increasing indigenous production of renewable energy, thereby contributing to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, improving the security of our energy supply and creating jobs in the green economy, especially in coastal communities where there are particular job creation challenges.
“The strategic environmental assessment that was carried out for the offshore renewable energy development plan found that it would be environmentally sustainable for 4,500 MW of offshore wind to be developed in Irish waters in the period to 2030,” he said. “The development plan will provide the mechanism through which action across Government Departments and agencies to support the development of offshore renewable electricity generation can be fully co-ordinated in areas such as environmental monitoring, research and development, consenting procedures, infrastructure requirements and enterprise development. There will be potential for local job creation in construction, maintenance and the supply of materials and equipment, including offshore surveying, transportation and installation vessels and associated manpower. There will also be opportunities to develop new products across information technology, remote communications and software.”