Taoiseach Leo Varadkar joined Ministers on Saturday at the historic Ardnacrusha hydro-electric dam in Clare to publish the Shannon Taskforce Report, which make proposals to Government to transform the Shannon Estuary region.
Joined by Minister for the Environment, Climate & Communications, and Transport Eamon Ryan, Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment Simon Coveney, and Minister for Education Norma Foley, the Taoiseach launched the Taskforce’s Final Report. It sets out an over-arching vision for the Shannon Estuary to become Ireland’s Atlantic Green Digital Corridor, and to be the lead location for Atlantic offshore wind.
This 50,000-word blueprint for the Shannon Estuary has clear targets for the Shannon Estuary, including the creation of 10,000 new green jobs by 2035 and 50,000 by 2050, having 2GW of green energy capacity in development by 2030, and up to 30GW installed by 2050.
The Report’s proposals for renewable energy, industry, tourism, and logistics could result in significant job growth and new business opportunities, and it has exciting proposals for new technologies like hydrogen.
The Taskforce, which was a Programme for Government commitment, was established in April 2022 and chaired by Barry O’Sullivan, consulted extensively with regional, national, and international stakeholders across industry, Government, Local Authorities, elected representatives, and members of the public. It sets out:
how the installation of Offshore Wind in the Atlantic can be expedited within the next decade;
the important role a thriving R&D ecosystem can play in driving our offshore wind opportunity;
how the existing employment and industrial base can be sustained through onshore renewable energy solutions;
how the tourism offering in the region can be strengthened ahead of the Ryder Cup 2027;
and how critical infrastructure can be identified to avail of these opportunities.
Commenting on the Report, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said:
“We are launching this report in Ardnacrusha, which is an historic example of what can be achieved when Government and industry work together. The Shannon Estuary Economic Taskforce Report sets out how Government and industry can work together for the benefit of the Shannon Estuary Region, the country and Europe. When I was re-elected as Taoiseach in December, I outlined my ambition for Ireland to become energy independent by harnessing our untapped renewable energy resources. This is our moonshot for the 21st century - something to strive for, not because it is easy but because it is hard. We need to be bold and visionary, but also practical and prepared, and I believe the Taskforce Report strikes a really good balance between the two. Thanks, above all, to the members of the Taskforce for so generously giving their time over the last year.”
Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, and Transport, Eamon Ryan, TD, said:
“We are on the cusp of really exciting times in our transition to renewable energy, here in Ireland, but also across Europe. Recently released data shows that wind and solar produced more EU electricity than fossil fuels in May, for the first full month on record. Almost a third of the EU’s electricity in May was generated from wind and solar, and here in Ireland, we are no different. Last year over a third of our electricity was produced from wind power.
“In solar, the rooftop revolution is taking off with over 500 homes installing solar PVs every week. However, our off-shore wind potential is the really big prize and this report indicates that the Shannon Estuary Taskforce is well positioned to be an important driver in harnessing the enormous potential of our Atlantic wind, bringing it onshore to power businesses, tourism, and industry, around the Estuary itself, but also wider – across the country and across Europe through strengthened interconnection and partnerships on hydrogen. This region really has the potential to be a green, digital powerhouse”
Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Simon Coveney, TD, said:
“My Department’s White Paper on Enterprise has clearly set out that the twin transition of digitisation and decarbonisation represents the opportunities and challenges of the future for Irish industry. Addressing these opportunities in a comprehensive manner will further enhance our reputation as a world-leading, progressive, high-value add economy trading successfully in international markets. The challenge for us all is to articulate the vision that places Ireland at the centre of this new global economy and documents a roadmap that can deliver on that vision.
“In that context, I warmly welcome the ambition set out by the Taskforce and the detailed set of actions. I particularly welcome the proposal to develop an Industrial Strategy for Offshore Wind. My Department has recently established a new Unit tasked with delivering on this objective recognising the vast potential the industry has for Ireland.
“I want to join the Taoiseach and my Government colleagues in sincerely thanking the Chairperson Barry O’Sullivan and his Taskforce colleagues for their sterling work over the past year. They have presented Government with a range of recommendations which we will collectively consider in detail.”
Minister for Education, Norma Foley, TD, said:
“I welcome today’s final report which sets out an ambitious programme of recommendations that will nurture, enhance and develop key opportunities in enterprise, tourism and energy across all parts of the wider Estuary region. This Report is significant in its vision to bring new opportunities to the region, and in doing so providing a solution to some of today’s national challenges such as re-balancing economic growth across all regions of rural Ireland, while at the same time investing in connectivity, tourism and decarbonising the economy. I want to join the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and my Cabinet colleagues in thanking the Taskforce, in particular the Chairperson Barry O’Sullivan, for producing such a comprehensive body of work which will prove transformative for communities in the South West of Ireland.”
The Taskforce Chairman, Barry O'Sullivan said:
"The Taskforce’s Final Report represents the culmination of over a year’s comprehensive assessment of the Shannon Estuary Region’s phenomenal potential. However, my strong belief is that our Report marks just the beginning of our Region’s new journey. Together, the Taskforce has presented a clear vision with a detailed set of actions that can allow our Region to power Ireland’s sustainable economic aspirations over the coming decades providing high-end employment opportunities for generations to come.
“Our region is already a great place to live in and to visit. To improve this further, we have put forward recommendations that can bring our infrastructural base up to the standards required to deliver on our economic potential and also presented solutions to strengthen our tourism offering ahead of Ryder Cup 2027.
“I would like to sincerely thank the members of the Taskforce for their dedication and commitment to this work, collectively contributing thousands of hours of their time in the public interest. On behalf of the Taskforce, I would like to express our gratitude to all of the stakeholders across the public and private sectors whose valuable contributions have helped shape our work."