Published: Thu, 22 June 2023
A delegation of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) led by Sean Kelly, a senior member of the Parliament’s energy committee and MEP for Ireland South, visited Denmark this week to explore sustainable initiatives and technological advancements in the context of the green transition.
During the visit, the delegation had the opportunity to tour various innovative industrial sites, notably, a visit to a major producer of biological solutions and an innovative case of industrial symbiosis, where waste from one company becomes a valuable resource for another. These visits highlighted the further potential for successful integration of sustainable practices into industrial operations. The delegation also visited Ørsted’s biomass power plant, a former coal power station that has been fully converted to biomass.
Undoubtedly, the pinnacle of the trip was the delegation’s visit to Ørsted’s Horns Rev offshore wind farm, made possible by a helicopter journey. Horns Rev is Denmark’s largest offshore wind farm, generating a staggering 9% of the country’s electricity.
“It was particularly interesting to see the Horns Rev offshore wind farm, almost as a glimpse into Ireland’s future. Looking at what can be achieved, I was very happy to see that Ørsted will enter into the Irish offshore wind market through a partnership with ESB. It is positive that plans will also include green hydrogen production at Moneypoint in Clare and Aghada in Cork, using energy from its Moneypoint and Celtic windfarms in the area. This will be a massive boost to the region and I want to see more of it”, said Kelly.
The agreement entails the joint development of up to 5GW of offshore wind projects and complementary renewable hydrogen initiatives. The ESB-Ørsted partnership aligns with the government’s 2030 target of installing 7 GW of offshore wind, supporting Ireland’s journey to achieve net-zero emissions.
This new agreement marks another step in Ørsted’s involved in Ireland, with Kelly adding “It is positive to work with trusted partners, Ørsted operate a 360 MW portfolio of onshore wind farms across Ireland and have acquired the 160 MW Irish solar project Garrenleen (Carlow). To put this in context, this solar farm will be able to power up to 56,000 homes annually, making it one of the largest solar farms in the country.”
Kelly stressed the importance of developing ports to harness the potential of offshore wind and facilitate the production of green hydrogen as a replacement for the current fossil-based backup power system. “Ireland is a leader in wind energy, but we still have so much more potential. Although we are going in the right direction, we are still without a coherent over-arching strategy in place to create a clean hydrogen market. For Ireland, green hydrogen and offshore wind are very closely related”, highlighted Kelly.
“For a number of years I have called for an Irish Hydrogen Strategy and now it is more important than ever. Industry is filling the gap, but the government is behind the curve in this respect and that should change as soon as possible, especially looking at the potential the South-West region holds”, Kelly added.
To expedite the administrative processes necessary for the timely realization of renewable energy projects, Kelly emphasized “the need for planning authorities to have the requisite personnel and technical capacity. I have proposed several measures to streamline planning and permitting procedures for renewable energy projects. These measures would be instrumental in Ireland’s pursuit of renewable energy goals, but beyond just that, they are fundamental to building Ireland’s future economy”.
Caption (L-R): Niels Fuglsang (S&D, DK), Morten Petersen (Renew, DK), Zdzisław Krasnodębski (ECR, PL), Nicolás González Casares (S&D, ES), Seán Kelly (EPP, IE), Henna Virkkunen (EPP, FI), Christian Ehler (EPP, DE)