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The WDC recently made a short submission to the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC ) consultation on the Draft Offshore Renewable Energy Future Framework Policy Statement .  In this blog post I give an overview of our key points.  The full WDC submission is here and also linked below.


Our region has very significant on and offshore renewable energy (ORE) resources (the coastline of the Western Region counties makes up more than half of the Republic of Ireland coastline[1]) and it is important both to the economic development of the region, and to the achievement of the 2050 net zero targets, that these resources are used to best advantage.

We believe that the focus on achieving the greatest possible economic impact from ORE, as outlined in the Future Framework, should include the goal of maximising regional development benefits especially in those regions which have significant renewable resources but are currently lagging.


Key points from the Submission

Infrastructure and development issues

As noted, the Western Region has important natural assets which could support very significant ORE opportunities, but the region has long faced infrastructural deficits.  The WDC is concerned that the draft Future Framework could reinforce this infrastructural disadvantage.  The Future Framework, despite being a long term plan for sectoral development from 2030 onwards, is focused on existing assets (pg. 24).

ORE is an opportunity for economic development and we believe that to spread the benefit of ORE development, there should be a focus on ensuring the opportunities from development of this sector are felt through the country, not just in areas with current infrastructural advantage.

The Electricity Transmission Grid

One of the key barriers to exploiting the opportunity for ORE is the poor grid infrastructure in the north west. This is already limiting options for onshore development.  As we have been highlighting for more than a decade, addressing this bottleneck and developing the transmission grid in this region should be a particular focus of grid planning.

While it is essential to make the most of current grid infrastructure, there is a long term focus to this Framework, so it is important to recognise that investment is needed and that grid should be developed in areas that are currently underserved, to ensure that development can take place.

In many situations (e.g. the north west) grid investment will have both on and offshore benefits, while a focus on locating suitable demand (e.g. Hydrogen production) will have grid stabilisation as well as local economic benefits.


Posts have an essential role to play in the renewable sector (e.g. assembly, deployment, operation & maintenance (O&M), marine services).  In order to accelerate ORE development, port investment is key, and the updated National Ports Policy needs to ensure that there are a variety of funding options available to the ports so that the required capital investment can take place.

It is particularly important that the updated policy removes the barrier to ports receiving public support.  Where the government is seeking to stimulate the development of a sector, or where public goods are being provided, state funding mechanisms should be employed.

Community Benefit

Serious consideration needs to be given to how Community Benefit is managed where, as is likely in the long term, ORE development is far offshore and largely out of sight of land.  The definition of communities, the mechanism to spread benefits, all need to be assessed.

There are opportunities to make a real difference using the community benefit revenue that would be derived from ORE, but it is important that the money is spent in ways that bring long term gain to people in regions where ORE is developed.



The Western Region has important renewable resources, both on and offshore, and we are concerned that developing the sector only where there is existing infrastructure will reinforce current infrastructural and other structural disadvantages.  ORE provides an opportunity to mitigate this disadvantage if it is given appropriate focus in the planning of the ORE sector.

It is important that this Future Framework maximises the long term societal value of the ORE sector, spreading the benefits and ensuring a regional development focus is an important part of this.


The WDC submission can be read in full here.


Helen McHenry

Policy Analyst

[1] Western Region counties account for 53-58% of the Irish coastline (excluding islands) depending on the coastline measures used