Wind Energy Ireland has called for direct funding from the Government as well as low-interest loans for investment in Irish ports after a new report found that only one port on the Island of Ireland was ready for the deployment of offshore wind farms.

However, Minister for Environment Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan said ports themselves will drive the investment needed to upgrade their facilities and earnings from the offshore wind industry will pay for it.

The National Port Study was launched at Wind Energy Ireland's annual offshore wind conference in Dublin today.

It includes a detailed analysis of the capabilities and expansion plans at 13 Irish ports.

They were at Belfast D1, Belfast Harland & Wolff, Bremore, Cork Dockyard, Foynes Island, Galway, Killybegs, Larne, Moneypoint, Port of Cork (Ringaskiddy), Ros an Mhíl, Rosslare Europort and Shannon-Foynes.

The report found that only one port, Belfast Harbour, was properly equipped and ready for the construction and deployment of offshore wind farms.

The Chief Executive of Wind energy Ireland, Noel Cunniffe, said the 7GW (Gigawatts) of offshore wind energy required by the end of 2030 cannot be built in Ireland if we only have a single port on the island suitable for building offshore wind farms.

He said we need to be able to build more than one offshore wind project at the same time if we are to have any chance to deliver the country's carbon emissions targets.

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The report's author Sarah Gibson, Principal Engineer with Gavin & Doherty Geosolutions, said the ports examined have the ambition, the determination, and the imagination to provide first-class infrastructure for offshore renewable energy projects and that ports like Rosslare, Cork Dockyard and Shannon-Foynes have already put in substantial work getting ready for offshore wind.

"Ports and developers both want this to happen," she said.

"Ireland can be a base from which to build a generation of fixed-bottom and floating wind energy projects, creating thousands of jobs and ensuring that investment stays in Ireland.

"But it won’t just happen by itself. It will need Government, ports and renewable energy developers working together to make this ambition a reality."

Minister Eamon Ryan said the wind industry is "absolutely right" about the need for upgraded port facilities.

He insisted that the port improvements will be delivered and said that the Government is working with ports to make sure that they are ready to be part of the solution and to be part of this new energy industry.

He said it will be primarily investor led and the ports they are confident that income they will earn from the wind energy industry will pay for the improvement in their facilities.

The Minister said the State will help where there is an investment gap and cited the example of Shannon-Foynes port, where a new rail freight line to the port is required to service the offshore ambitions.

Minister Ryan also said that such as Arklow, Wicklow and Dun Laoghaire on the east coast, and Galway, Ros an Mhíl and others on the west coast could be operational or service ports for the offshore energy industry.

However, the big deep-water Irish ports including Rosslare, Cork, and Shannon-Foynes, will be deployment and construction ports where turbines can be assembled, and the huge turbine blades laid out.

He said the Government will help and play its part but insisted that the ports are ready to invest and the income for that investment that will mainly come from the offshore wind industry itself.