A new report by Cork University Business School (CUBS) at University College Cork (UCC) has highlighted the lack of government engagement, support, and funding as a significant barrier to the offshore renewable energy sector. The report, titled ‘Innovation, Networking and Policy in the Offshore Renewable Energy Sector’, was based on a survey of 214 firms operating in the offshore renewable energy sector. The research revealed that the main barriers to innovation for firms were insufficient support and engagement by the government and a lack of funding.
Irish firms interviewed for the report cited difficulties around bureaucracy, funding, infrastructure, and regulation as “noticeably greater” compared to their UK and Europe-based counterparts. The majority of firms also cited financial constraints as a significant restriction to the development of new products and services. The report’s lead researcher, Dr. Frank Crowley, a lecturer in Economics at Cork University Business School and Co-Director of the Spatial and Regional Economics Research Centre at UCC, said that there is currently “huge uncertainty” around funding commitments and the policy and planning environment in Ireland.
Dr. Crowley added that Ireland has the natural resources and the unique geographical location to be the global leader in these sectors of the future. However, certainty, commitment, and leadership by Ireland are needed sooner rather than later. The report also found that strong industry-university relations are evident, but firms interviewed criticised “rigid” semesters and academic incentives that prioritise publication over industry impact.
The research was conducted by the SELKIE work-package 9 research team, led by researchers at the Spatial and Regional Economics Research Centre (SRERC) at Cork University Business School in UCC. Knowledge brokers like Higher Education Institutions and special purpose Research Centres are likely to play a critical role in acting as platforms and anchors of coordination between government, industry, university, and the wider society in the regional renewable energy innovation system, if the sector is to be successful, Dr. Crowley added.
The report will be officially launched at an event this afternoon in UCC. The findings of the report are significant and highlight the urgent need for the Irish government to provide more support and funding to the offshore renewable energy sector. With the right policies and funding in place, Ireland could become a global leader in the offshore renewable energy sector, creating jobs and driving economic growth. However, if the government fails to act quickly, Ireland risks falling behind its European counterparts in the race to develop and deploy offshore renewable energy technologies.