THE GOVERNMENT needs to take decisive action to prevent Ireland from being left behind Britain and Germany in the race to develop offshore wind farms, according to a leading industry figure.
Arno Verbeek, Airtricity's general manager for Irish offshore power, said there was a real risk that investment would end up concentrated on projects abroad, which have moved faster than Ireland.
His comments come as KPMG corporate finance director Ger Butler revealed that banks were keen to invest in Irish offshore projects but couldn't because they can't get access to the national grid.
"They are seen as very attractive because they have a steady cash flow and they are predictable," said Butler. "If you look at the five projects earmarked for Ireland, grid access is a major issue that needs to be addressed. In order to invest, you need all the pieces to slot together including grid access, planning and turbine supply," he said.
Butler said these issues needed to be addressed quickly, particularly as the five projects needed to put down deposits as soon as possible to secure their turbines if they were to meet their target dates of 2012.
Verbeek said his company cannot secure turbines for its Irish offshore projects because of the lack of grid connections.
"Before we start spending large sums of money, we need to have a connection offer," he said.
The Department of Energy said issues associated with connecting offshore wind to the grid these "can be resolved in advance of the 2012 timeline".