Ireland’s Phase One Offshore Wind Projects Reach Major Milestone

Ireland’s Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan TD, has issued Maritime Area Consents (MACs) to the first phase of seven offshore renewable energy projects, said to represent a significant milestone in the delivery of offshore wind in Ireland.

Coming on the back of the publication of the Climate Action Plan 2023, this is said to confirm the Irish government’s commitment to delivering on its climate ambitions and enhancing the country’s energy security.

The award of MACs ensures that only projects with the greatest viability to deliver Ireland’s energy targets can progress into the planning system.

The award of a MAC follows a comprehensive assessment, by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications, into each project’s financial and technical competency.

This approach enables all Phase One projects to begin their pre-planning application engagement with An Bord Pleanála.

The award of a MAC also enables Phase One projects to participate in the ORESS 1, the first auction for offshore wind under the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS). ORESS 1 is expected to procure approximately 2.5 GW of electricity generating capacity.

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The seven Phase One projects, known as “Relevant Projects”, are Oriel Wind Park, RWE’s Dublin ArrayCodling Wind Park I and IIFuinneamh Sceirde Teoranta (Skerd Rocks), and North Irish Sea Array (NISA).

”With the award of Maritime Area Consents [MACs] to seven Phase One projects today, we have given Ireland’s most viable and well-advanced offshore energy projects the opportunity to progress through the planning system and reach development. This is a significant milestone on the pathway to decarbonising our energy supply and securing energy independence,” Minister Ryan said.

”These first Maritime Area Consents [MACs] have been carefully drafted to promote the speedy and efficient deployment of offshore renewable energy, while ultimately protecting the State’s rich and unique maritime resource, in line with the principles of the National Marine Planning Framework.”

Projects which have been granted a MAC will be required to apply for development permission and secure a route to market within set timeframes, ensuring project progression and maximising benefits to the State. Phase One projects are also required to pay an annual levy to the State – under the terms of their MACs.

The grant of Phase One MACs follows the opening of the MAC assessment window in April, and the publication of the ORESS Terms and Conditions in early November. It was enabled by the enactment of the Maritime Area Planning Act last year.

Sven Utermöhlen, CEO Wind Offshore RWE Renewables, said: ‘‘We warmly welcome the granting of this Maritime Area Consent to Dublin Array, taking this this nationally important wind farm another critical step closer to delivery. Dublin Array will be a sustainable source of clean, green renewable electricity for the Irish market. The awarding of the MAC means that Dublin Array can now move into the final planning stages of the project in 2023 and submit a planning application to An Bord Pleanála. We look forward to continued engagement with the public, as we finalise our planning stage design.”

Ireland currently has 25 MW of operating offshore wind capacity, with plans to increase the capacity to 7 GW by 2030.

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Photo: SSE/Illustration