Ireland’s Minister for Housing and Urban Development Damien English and Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton have confirmed that seven offshore wind projects have been designated as ‘relevant projects’ and will be fast-tracked to development
The projects that have been approved are the Oriel Wind Park, Innogy Renewables (two projects, Bray and Kish Banks), Codling Wind Park (two projects, Codling I and Codling II), Fuinneamh Sceirde Teoranta (Skerd Rocks), and North Irish Sea Array Ltd (North Irish Sea Array).
The projects either applied for or were granted a lease under the Foreshore Act 1933 or are offshore wind projects that are eligible to be processed to receive a valid grid connection offer.
Ireland’s Climate Action Plan commits the country to increasing its offshore wind capacity to 3.5 GW as part of an overall ambition to reach 70% renewable energy by 2030.
Transition of the offshore windfarms means their developers can continue to work and update aspects of the projects so they will be in a position to apply under the new marine planning regime, once enacted, which will be introduced by the Marine Planning and Development Management Bill, 2020.
Minister English said, “I am pleased to announce a way forward for these offshore renewable energy projects which will now be determined under the planning regime to be introduced in the Marine Planning and Development Management Bill, 2020.
“Under this new marine planning regime, these projects will apply for final development consent to An Board Pleanála which will provide further opportunities for public consultation on the individual projects.”
Minister Bruton said, “This sets out a clear development path for these offshore wind projects which will play a key role in decarbonising our electricity system. This is a clear example of the government’s determination to deliver on our climate and renewable energy ambitions to deliver 70% of our electricity from renewable sources by 2030.”
Responding to the announcement, Cornwall Insights head of energy markets Ireland Conall Bolger said, “The key planks of a successful offshore wind sector comprise, planning, grid, the route to market, and supply chain. This announcement is a very positive signal to the Irish offshore wind sector.
“If the next Irish government makes the passage of the Marine Planning and Development Management Bill an early priority, then it will put in place one of those key planks.
“Concerted action is required across all of those areas over the next 18 months if we are to see gigawatts of turbines in Irish waters by 2030.”
innogy Renewables Ireland, joint developer of Dublin Array windfarm, also welcomed the announcement.
Dublin Array is located on the Kish and Bray Banks, 10 km from the coast of Dublin and Wicklow counties. The project is expected to generate around 600-1,000 MW. Subject to a successful updated consent application and subject to investment decision by the project partners, construction could begin in 2024, with the project fully operational in 2026.
Dublin Array project director Peter Lefroy said, “We welcome the Government’s commitment to progressing the Climate Action Plan targets, and particularly the development of offshore wind in Ireland. Renewable energy, including offshore and onshore wind, can play an even bigger role than currently envisaged to de-carbonise our society.
“Covid-19 has created great uncertainty in many industries and we recognise the Government’s efforts to continue to move forward under such difficult circumstances. This announcement helps maintain important momentum in Ireland’s offshore wind sector and will drive investment and job creation in Ireland in the coming years.”
The Dublin Array project is currently in the development phase; gathering information to refresh the environmental reporting and project design. Data collection will continue into the summer of 2020.
innogy plans to commence an extensive period of stakeholder and community consultation early in autumn 2020 so that the views of all stakeholders and interested parties can be taken into consideration as it finalises the project design and move towards submitting planning applications.
EDF Renewables and Fred Olsen Renewables said the announcement was an exciting one for their Codling project. “This means we can prepare an updated consent application in line with the new offshore planning regime being introduced through the Maritime Planning and Development Management Bill,” they said.
Codling project director Caroline Heeps described the announcement as an important step towards facilitating offshore wind as a key contributor to Ireland achieving its climate action plan targets.
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