Ireland’s state-owned utility ESB has signed an agreement with Belgian offshore wind developer Parkwind to co-develop two offshore windfarms in the Irish Sea.
This represents ESB’s first such investment in the country.
The Irish utility has agreed to acquire an interest of up to 35% in the Oriel windfarm, which is 22km off the coast at Dundalk. The windfarm will have up to 330MW capacity and feature 55 large turbines.
The windfarm is expected to start commercial operations in the early 2020s, following receipt of regulatory approvals.
Currently, the only operational offshore windfarm in the country is the partly-constructed Arklow Bank, which is located off the Wicklow coast.
The total cost of the Oriel project is expected to be €700m, reported Irishtimes.com.
Once the project becomes operational, it will produce sufficient power to meet the energy needs of 280,000 households.
In 2018, the ESB invested in its first offshore windfarm, with the acquisition of a 12.5% interest in the Galloper project, located off the south coast of England.
Parkwind will head the Oriel project in collaboration with ESB from its Dublin office.
Meanwhile, Parkwind will also invest for a stake of up to 35% in the planned 500MW Clogherhead windfarm project, to be located near Oriel.
The ESB has a foreshore licence to begin site investigations on that project.
ESB chief executive Pat O’Doherty was quoted by Irishexaminer.com as saying: “ESB is completely transforming the way we generate electricity, replacing high carbon generation with low carbon and renewable alternatives.”
Ireland Environment Minister Richard Bruton said that the ESB-Parkwind agreement represents ‘a significant development’ for Ireland’s offshore wind industry, reported Irishtimes.com.
Bruton added: “With a sea area almost ten times the size of its landmass, Ireland has very significant offshore wind capacity and this partnership is a testament to our potential in this area.”