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For Written Answer on : 17/01/2024
Question Number(s): 292 Question Reference(s): 1703/24
Department: Transport
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
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QUESTION


To ask the Minister for Transport further to Parliamentary Question No. 50 of 10 May 2023, to outline the way his Department is supporting and assisting the relevant ports and private companies within the remit of NewERA, to access funding via the Connecting Europe Facility and other grant funding in order to develop a competitive and responsive ports sector in order that Ireland can meet our targets of 7GW of offshore wind by 2030; the deadlines, if any, pertaining to applications; when he expects decisions to be made in this regard; the amounts involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

REPLY


I am committed to facilitating the Commercial Irish State ports under my remit as positive contributors to the offshore renewable energy industry to support Ireland to meet its ambitious targets of 5GW of installed offshore wind capacity by 2030, with a further 2GW in development for the production of green hydrogen and other non-grid uses. Supporting the development of port infrastructure is a core objective of the National Offshore Wind Delivery Taskforce and the Department is working very closely with the Task Force in this regard.

Under National Ports Policy our state commercial ports operate as independent commercial bodies and it is important to note that current Ports Policy does not provide for direct exchequer funding. Ports can be financed from their own cash, borrowings, EU grant funding or private sector involvement.

The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) is the EU’s funding instrument to support projects on the Trans-European Transport Network.  Under the current CEF programme, funds can be awarded to projects supporting the development of port facilities related to the transportation activities of offshore wind farms. Therefore, access to CEF or other grant funding is vitally important to eligible ports.

With the assistance of my Department two projects from Ireland were awarded funding in 2023 under the 2022 CEF Transport call: 

  • Doyle Shipping Group was awarded €2.5 million towards studies looking at the redevelopment and expansion of the existing port facilities in Cork to support the development of offshore wind energy. 
  • Irish Rail was awarded €2.5 million towards studies aimed to develop facilities to support offshore renewal energy at Rosslare Europort.

My Department is also supporting applications under the 2023 CEF Transport call, which application process closes on 30 January 2024. My officials have been liaising with applicants to ensure their applications to this call are of a high quality and meet the requirements set out by the European Commission.  We expect that the results of this call will be published in the summer of 2024. 

The need to maximise financing opportunities for ports is recognised by my Department and to that end, in addition to its support for ports as part of the CEF process, the department continues to engage with all industry stakeholders. This includes potential financing partners such as the EU (via Connecting Europe Facility), Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) – looking at viable projects, capable of generating a commercial return.

Role of NewERA

NewERA provides financial and commercial advice to the relevant Government Ministers and Departments in relation to commercial State companies across a range of sectors. The relevant ports within NewERA’s remit include Dublin Port, Port of Cork, Port of Waterford, Rosslare Port and Shannon Foynes Port Company. NewERA has also agreed to examine proposals from private sector ports.
 
As part of its role, NewERA is assisting my Department in relation to the assessment of capital investment plans (and the financing of this capital investment) for the development of port infrastructure to enable the development of offshore renewable energy.