Annual Report 2017
Country Reports


Declan Meally Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland



Ireland remains open for business and is actively committed to harnessing its abundant wave, tidal and offshore wind energy resources while developing an indigenous ocean energy industry in the process. The publication of the Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan in 2014, and its ongoing implementation through the Offshore Renewable Energy Steering Group, has had the benefit of facilitating a genuinely collaborative environment in this area. This plan was reviewed in 2017 by relevant stakeholders at government and industry level to ascertain progress on actions; to ensure continued focus on appropriate priority areas and to realign the plan with any changes in political or technical landscapes.

The initial outcome of the review suggests that all relevant Agencies and Government Departments within Ireland remain committed to supporting this burgeoning sector and offering one single gateway for information as well as access to particular supports for the development of the ocean energy industry in Ireland. The importance of supporting technology developers while also investing in academic research has been well-recognised, and the past year has seen tangible progress in both areas with some flagship projects already underway.


In 2014 the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (DCENR) published the Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan (OREDP) ( The OREDP highlights the potential opportunities for the country in relation to marine energy at low, medium and high levels of development, as derived from the findings of the Strategic Environmental Assessment of the plan carried out prior to publication. The OREDP, as a policy document, sets out the key principles, specific actions and enablers needed to deliver upon Ireland’s significant potential in this area. Accordingly, the OREDP is seen as providing a framework for the development of this sector. The Plan is divided into two parts. The first part deals with the opportunities, policy context and next steps, including 10 key enabling actions for the development of the sector. The second part focuses on the Strategic Environmental and Appropriate Assessment of the Plan.

The implementation of the OREDP is led by the Department of Communications Climate Action and Environmen (DCCAE) and the Offshore Renewable Energy Steering Group (ORESG) is actively overseeing its implementation. The Steering Group consists of the main Government departments and agencies with roles and responsibilities that relate to energy and the marine environment, developers and broader interest and user groups when necessary.

The work of the ORESG, and hence the implementation of the OREDP, is organised according to three work-streams: Environment, Infrastructure and Job Creation. The Job Creation working group has responsibility across several actions, including identifying additional exchequer support requirements, supply chain development and communicating the message that ‘Ireland is Open for Business’. Under the Environment work-stream the Group ensures the needs of the marine energy industry are reflected in the on-going reform of the foreshore and marine consenting process. The actions deriving from the SEA and AA of the OREDP will also be taken forward under this work-stream to ensure that future marine energy development takes place in an environmentally sustainable manner. The Infrastructure working group concentrates on supporting and delivering objectives of other policies such as the National Ports Policy and Grid 25 so as to expedite integrated infrastructure development which will facilitate the offshore renewable energy sector. This plan was reviewed in 2017 by relevant stakeholders at government and industry level to ascertain progress on actions; to ensure continued focus on appropriate priority areas and to realign the plan with any changes in political or technical landscapes. The review of the OREDP was subject to a full public consultation in November/December 2017. The final report of the review is not yet published, but it is anticipated in summer 2018. Initial indications from the review process are that currently the OREDP is progressing well but that in some areas additional focus is required.

The White Paper ‘Ireland’s Transition to a Low Carbon Energy Future 2015-2030’, published by DCENR in 2015, is a complete update on Ireland’s wider energy policy. This paper sets out a framework to guide policy and the actions that Government intends to take in the energy sector from now up to 2030, while taking European and International climate change objectives and agreements, as well as Irish social, economic and employment priorities, into account. The White Paper anticipates that ocean energy will play a part in Ireland’s energy transition in the medium to long term and reiterates the OREDP’s status as the guiding framework for developing the sector.

Currently, proposed ocean energy developments require a Foreshore Licence (for non-exclusive and temporary uses) and/or a Foreshore Lease (exclusive and permanent uses) granted by the Minister of Housing, Planning, Community & Local Government. Deployment of an ocean energy device may require an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) depending on its nature, size and location, in accordance with European Union (EU) law and national legislation. Similarly where a development is located in or near a site designated for nature conservation purposes, under the EU Habitats Directive, an Appropriate Assessment (AA) may also be required. If a development comprises onshore works (terrestrial) planning permission from the adjoining planning authority (County Council) will be required. A new Maritime Area and Foreshore (Amendment) Bill is expected to be enacted which will align the foreshore consent system with the planning system in order to streamline the EIA and AA processes for projects.

2017 saw the publication of guidance on Environmental Impact Assessment Reports (EIAR) and Natura Impact Statements (NIS) for offshore renewable energy projects ensuring best practice is adopted in order to develop the industry in an environmentally friendly manner. Further guidance is anticipated on Environmental Monitoring and baseline data collection in the coming months.

In September 2017 the department of Communications Climate Action and Environment issued a the ‘Public Consultation on the Design of a new Renewable Electricity Support Scheme in Ireland’. This public consultation focused on the design options of the proposed new RESS for Ireland. This was the second stage in this process to review and design Irelands Renewable Energy Support Scheme (the initial consultation had been issued in July 2015)

While the primary objective of the new RESS is to incentivise the introduction of sufficient renewable generation to deliver national and EU wide renewable energy and decarbonisation targets, there are other energy policy objectives. The objectives include: the broadening and diversifying of the renewable technology mix, enhancing security of energy supply, promoting economic development, and supporting community and citizen participation in the transition to a low carbon economy. These objectives must be met, while simultaneously delivering value for money for the consumer. Providing pathways for increased community participation is also considered be a cornerstone of the new scheme, delivering on Energy White Paper commitments.

The proposed new RESS has been designed with the primary policy objective of delivering sufficient renewable electricity to meet Ireland’s contribution to the EU wide renewable energy targets, out to 2030. The proposed design also meets Ireland’s three energy pillars of Competitiveness, Security of Supply and Sustainability, while simultaneously addressing other stated government ambitions. The Floating Feed In Premium (FIP) performed best against the assessment criteria and was selected as the primary financial support mechanism for the new RESS. This support will be allocated through auctions, with potential exceptions for small-scale generation or emerging technologies.
A separate Community Category in also included within the RESS to support community-led projects. Several proposals regarding the features of a community scheme within the new RESS consultation were suggested. These proposals included: projects supported under the RESS must offer the community an opportunity to invest, a floating feed-in-premium (FIP) should be made available for smaller community projects (<6MW wind, <1MW other technologies), and development grants should be made available to suitable community-led projects. The report also explored several means of enabling communities to make their investments, including tax incentives, green bonds, facilitating crowd funding and offering investment soft loans. No recommendation is made regarding supporting these options but further analysis of these measures is proposed to understand their suitability. It is also proposed that pathways for micro-generation be developed outside of, but in conjunction with, the main RESS.

The public consultation generated thousands of responses and it is anticipated that it will take a number of months in 2018 to review and integrate these into the plan. Feedback on the plan and proposed direction is anticipated once this process is completed.


SEAI Prototype Development Fund
SEAI’s Prototype Development Fund aims to accelerate and enhance support for the research, development, testing and deployment of wave and tidal energy devices. The emphasis is on industry-led projects, and covers a broad scope, including the following indicative types of activities:

  • Projects to develop and test wave and tidal energy capture devices, systems and sites.
  • Independent monitoring of projects/technologies.
  • Industry-led R&D aimed at the integration of ocean energy into the electricity market and the national electricity grid (and network).
  • Data monitoring, forecasting, communications and control of ocean energy systems.

The programme launched in 2009 and to date has supported over 100 projects with +€14m grant funding.

Pre-Commercial Technology Fund
In order to meet the changing requirements of the ocean energy sector, and particularly ocean energy technology developers, SEAI is investigating funding mechanisms to help accelerate the commercialisation of wave and tidal energy devices and components. In 2016 the Marine Renewables Industry Association (MRIA) published its report ‘Funding the Development of the Ocean Energy Industry in Ireland’, with the support of SEAI. This report recommends the establishment of a ‘Pre-Commercial Technology Fund (PCTF) to close the ‘funding gap’ for device and sub-system developers at TRL3+ and to complement the current Prototype Development Fund’. SEAI are progressing these recommendations and have sought further advice from appropriate consultants and stakeholders on how to develop a scheme appropriate to the Irish market and Industry.

The ERA-NET scheme is an innovative component of the European Union’s Framework Programme, which supports co-operation of national/regional research funding programmes to strengthen the European Research Area (ERA). OCEANERA‐NET (, aims to coordinate and support research, innovation and knowledge exchange in the Ocean Energy sector amongst European countries and regions, by launching transnational competitive joint calls for funding collaborative RTDI projects. SEAI is a participant in the OCEANERA-NET, along with 16 funding Agencies from 9 European countries. Six projects with nine Irish partners were approved in the two OCEANERA-NET joint calls.

Ocean Energy ERA-NET Cofund
The Ocean Energy ERA-NET Cofund (OCEANERA-NET COFUND) is a five-year action that secured support through the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Programme for Research and Innovation in 2016. This new programme will build on the work of OCEANERA-NET and with an increased budget and financial support from the EU Commission, the COFUND programme focuses on collaborative projects that demonstrate and validate innovative technologies for ocean energy. OCEANERA-NET COFUND aims to support transnational, collaborative research and development projects in ocean energy through joint calls and carry out other joint activities which will enhance the coordination of public research and innovation programmes and improve the exploitation of results of the projects funded. The first joint call was launched in 2017 and was open to applicants from three European countries (Ireland, Spain, Sweden) and four regions (Brittany, Pays de la Loire, the Basque Country, and Scotland). Five projects with seven Irish partners were approved in this COFUND joint call.