SSE First Offshore Wind Developer to Receive Consent for Onshore Grid Infrastructure in Ireland

SSE Renewables has announced that the planning permission for the onshore grid infrastructure for the 800 MW Phase 2 of Arklow Bank Wind Park has been approved by Ireland’s planning board, An Bord Pleanála.

This is the first time an offshore wind developer secured planning permission to develop onshore transmission grid infrastructure for an Irish offshore wind farm.

The company submitted a planning application in April 2021 through its wholly-owned subsidiary Sure Partners.

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The planning permission approved by An Bord Pleanála includes the development of a 220 kV substation at Avoca River Business in Arklow, Wicklow County, with an associated connection from the new substation to the existing national transmission network.

The consented development also includes an underground cable route connecting the substation to the landfall point at Johnstown North, Arklow, where it will meet the planned subsea offshore cables connecting to the wind farm.

“We’re delighted to have received this decision from An Bord Pleanála, and to have achieved this critical milestone in the development of the Arklow Bank Wind Park, Phase 2. This consent is the culmination of almost three years of work by members of our project team and our consultants, ARUP,” said Kaj Christiansen, Arklow Bank Development Manager at SSE Renewables.

“The decision also brings SSE Renewables a step closer in delivering the next phase of Arklow Bank Wind Park, and our ambition to unlock investment, deliver jobs and local community benefits, and critically help achieve Ireland’s climate action targets by 2030.” 

SSE Renewables also received a Foreshore License from the Irish Government which enables it to commence maritime site survey investigations to provide a better understanding of the offshore site conditions, the company said.

The survey, which is expected to start in May, will be conducted by DEME’s vessel Neptune and is planned to be completed by the end of August this year, subject to weather conditions.

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The onshore grid infrastructure approval comes just ahead of the upcoming application by SSE Renewables to the Irish Government for a Maritime Area Consent (MAC) to allow it to proceed to apply for planning permission for the project’s offshore infrastructure including wind turbines, substation platforms, and subsea cables.

Due to Ireland’s new consenting regime, SSE renewables plans to commission the Arklow Bank Wind Park Phase 2 in 2028 and not in 2025 as initially planned.

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Transferring Arklow Bank Wind Park Phase 2 to the MAP process allowed SSE Renewables to revise the project and substantially increase the power generation output from the site from 520 MW to 800 MW, the company said.

The revised project will now be capable of powering almost 850,000 homes each year, almost double the number of homes targeted by the initial iteration of the project.

The Arklow Bank Wind Park Phase 2 is located 6 to 13 kilometres off the coast of Arklow in County Wicklow and would be Ireland’s second offshore wind farm. SSE Renewables is also the developer of the country’s only offshore wind farm, Arklow Bank 1.

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Photo: Arklow Bank Wind Park Phase 2