Supply squeeze hits green energy projects

Rush to wind power will leave some countries struggling

Supply-chain squeezes threaten to delay wind energy projects as more countries join the rush to green electricity, experts say.

Leading industry players including Statkraft, SSE Renewables, EDF and State-owned ESB are poised to spend billions of euro building offshore wind farms in the Irish Sea, while developers continue planning onshore plants.

Problems obtaining equipment and materials have hit the industry globally, according to Hari Vamadevan, regional director, energy systems, UK and Ireland, with assurance and risk management specialist DNV.

“All of today’s projects are struggling in terms of supply chain,” he told the Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA) on Tuesday.


Mr Vamadevan warned that this could leave individual countries struggling to build the wind farms they need to meet carbon emission reduction targets, particularly as southeast Asia gears up to develop offshore power plants.

He pointed out that the global supply chain was simply not strong enough to support likely development rates.

As it stands, projects take five to seven years to get through permitting and construction, and to get grid connections needed so they can sell electricity.

The Irish Government aims to have enough offshore wind in the Republic’s waters to generate 7,000 megawatt hours (MW/h) of electricity by 2030. Midwinter peak demand in the State generally exceeds 5,000MW/h.

Most offshore projects here have yet to seek planning permission but are at various stages in the marine licensing process. None is due to begin generating power until the final years of this decade at the earliest.

Meanwhile, the State also hopes that developers will build wind farms capable of generating further 1,000MW/h of onshore wind to add to the existing 5,000MW/h-plus across Ireland.

Addressing the institute’s Energy Transition Outlook: a Focus on Global and European Trends, Mr Vamadevan said Europe would need to get to “net zero” by 2045, five years ahead of the global 2050 deadline, to compensate for regions that will face challenges cutting their greenhouse gas output.

He also argued that some industries would have to be “carbon negative” to counterbalance activities where abatement was difficult.

Frank Ketelaars, DNV’s operations manager UK and Ireland, told the IIEA gathering that assessments of future trends in the UK indicated that households could see their energy bills halve by 2050 as renewables took an increasing share of supply.

However, responding to questions afterwards, he indicated that the current crisis, which has left some Irish families paying €4,000 a year for electricity and gas, would continue for some time.

Mr Vamadevan also noted that green hydrogen, a fuel tipped by some as a potential game changer, was expensive, inefficient and difficult to transport.

However, he pointed out that it had potential uses in manufacturing and other activities where fossil fuels would prove difficult to replace.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas