| In 2002 the world’s largest offshore wind farm was constructed at the Danish west coast. The Horns Rev wind farm is sited 14-20 km into the North Sea, west of Blåvands Huk, and represents the first phase in the Danish Government’s ambitious plan - to have wind turbines with a total capacity of 4000 MW in Danish waters before 2030. |
A major offshore wind farm is at an advanced stage of planning for the North Irish Sea. The wind farm will have capacity to generate 330 megawatts of electricity. On completion, it would be Ireland’s largest renewable electricity generator and one of the largest power stations in the country. The project is being developed by an Irish renewable energy company, Oriel Windfarm Limited, and is located in the Irish Sea between Dundalk and Drogheda.
Preparatory work on the project has been underway for several years under the terms of a Foreshore Licence granted to Oriel in 2005. It is currently in the final stages of a Foreshore Lease application process with the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources. Detailed plans were submitted to the Department in February of this year. A public consultation process was completed in June. A decision on the Foreshore Lease, which would allow the project to proceed to construction, is due in the autumn.
On completion, the wind farm will have capacity to generate in excess of 5 per cent of Ireland’s electricity needs, producing enough electricity for 250,000 homes. It would reduce the Government’s carbon emission liabilities, reduce national dependence on fossil fuel burning power stations and enhance security of supply by reducing dependence on imported fossil fuels. Based on figures supplied by Sustainable Energy Ireland, the Oriel wind farm has the potential to avert the release of over 350,000 tonnes of Co2 per annum.
Oriel Windfarm is a privately owned sustainable and renewable energy company established to develop wind farms in Ireland. The project is headed up by Brian Britton, a Dundalk based management consultant, who is Managing Director of Oriel. The company is backed by business, professional and wind farm interests with proven track records in the sector. To date, Oriel has invested over €7 million in bringing the project to the development stage.
The site of the proposed wind farm is 22km south east of Dundalk and 24km north east of Drogheda. If all the relevant consents are obtained, construction could commence as early as Autumn 2009. It will comprise fifty five turbines producing up to 6MW of electricity each and will be constructed in five phases of eleven turbines each. Oriel expects to commence supplying electricity to the national grid within two years of commencement of construction. The entire development could be completed by 2013.
Total construction costs are estimated to be €623m. During the construction phase, over 200 construction jobs, as well as 40 professional and managerial jobs, will be created. During the operation and maintenance phases 16 jobs will be created in the initial phase and 40 jobs in the lifetime of the project. Other benefits will also accrue to the North East, in areas such as the National Renewable Energy Centre at the Dundalk Institute of Technology.
The next stage of the project, assuming the granting of a Foreshore Lease, will be grid connection and turbine supply. Oriel said that it is already well advanced in the preparation of a grid connection application. The position on turbines is that there is currently an international shortage. This has created opportunities for new suppliers to enter Irish and international markets.
Commenting on the project today, Brian Britton, Managing Director, said: "Offshore wind is increasingly recognised as the key resource in delivering high capacity electricity generation from clean energy. Ireland’s offshore wind resources are totally underdeveloped, despite the fact that we have one of the best wind resources in the world. On obtaining a Foreshore Lease, Oriel will ensure this important national resource in the North Irish Sea is developed at an early date."
"Power generation contributes approx. 24 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions nationally. The electricity produced by Oriel would displace electricity produced by conventional power stations and will reduce the need to construct additional fossil fuel burning power stations. Based on SEI’s projections, we estimate that the Oriel wind farm could lead to savings of over €14m per annum in carbon credit expenditure by the Exchequer. Should UN recommendations on carbon fines be accepted this figure could be as high as €36m per annum," Britton added.