Government support vital to renewable energy projects, survey finds

Commitment and leadership needed ‘sooner rather than later’

Government support is critical to innovation in the offshore renewable energy sector, with lack of support and funding among the big barriers to the development of new products and services, new research has found.

Commitment and leadership by Ireland is needed sooner rather than later, experts said, as the technology advances and other countries embrace it.

More than 200 companies operating in Ireland’s offshore industry were questions for the report, titled Innovation, Networking and Policy in the Offshore Renewable Energy Sector.

The study, from Cork University Business School (CUBS), identified financial constraints as a significant impediment to entering or doing business in the sector. Government backing and support was also important to creating networks and promoting collaborative activity that could promote innovation, it said.


Although strong relations exist between industry and universities, rigid university semesters and academic incentives that prioritised publication over industry impact were a hindrance for the industry side of the collaboration. A lack of industry experience in academia was also holding things back, respondents said.

“In order to stimulate technological investment and commercialisation in the sector, it is vital to have both firm funding commitments and a stable policy and planning environment. Presently there is huge uncertainty around these factors in Ireland,” said lead researcher Dr Frank Crowley, lecturer in Economics at Cork University Business School and codirector of the Spatial and Regional Economics Research Centre at University College Cork (UCC).

“Ireland has the natural resources and the unique geographical location to be the global leader in these sectors of the future. But now, I don’t see the commitment or the will from Government. There is too much second guessing on the technology and taking an adoptive and wait and see approach. The technologies are advancing, we see sites in Scotland, Wales, Portugal, the US. The technology will get cheaper and no matter what renewable tech becomes superior, be it offshore wind, wave or tidal, we still need to prepare our infrastructure, our ports, our grid, our research centres, and our supply chains.”

The research was conducted by a team led by researchers at the Spatial and Regional Economics Research Centre (SRERC) at Cork University Business School in UCC.

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist