SSE Says It Remains Committed to Irish Offshore Wind Project Even Though Arklow Bank II Was Not Selected in Auction
Following Ireland’s Ministry for the Environment, Climate and Communications’ announcement of winners in the country’s first offshore wind auction, SSE Renewables, whose project did not secure a contract for renewable energy generation, said that it was still committed to the future delivery of its proposed Arklow Bank Wind Park II offshore wind farm.
As reported on 11 May, Ireland selected four projects with a total capacity of nearly 3.1 GW through its first competitive auction for offshore wind, the Offshore Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (ORESS 1): the 1,300 MW Codling Wind Park, the 824 MW Dublin Array, the 500 MW North Irish Sea Array (NISA), and the 450 MW Sceirde Rocks.
The offshore wind farms are among the six that were granted Maritime Area Consents (MACs) at the end of 2022, after the Irish government invited Phase One projects to apply in order to move forward toward the auction.
The two Phase One projects which did not secure generation capacity through the auction are Oriel Wind Park, developed by Parkwind and ESB, and SSE Renewables’ Arklow Bank Wind Park II.
Arklow Bank Wind Park II, proposed to be built off the coasts of County Wicklow and North Wexford, is planned to have a capacity of up to 800 MW and is currently the most advanced offshore wind project currently in development in Ireland, according to its developer.
Following the results of the Irish auction, Stephen Wheeler, Managing Director of SSE Renewables, said: “While we are disappointed with the auction result, Arklow Bank Wind Park II is an important project in our offshore pipeline, and we remain committed to its delivery. We will now take time to assess the outcome of this result and the options available to us to secure a route to market for this project which, we believe, has a vital role to play in contributing to Ireland’s climate action targets, to Ireland’s homegrown energy security, and to the national and regional economy – in particular, to the economic wellbeing of County Wicklow and North Wexford”.
“In the meantime, we will continue to progress the Arklow Bank II development including preparation of a planning application which we will submit to An Bord Pleanála later this year seeking permission to construct the project”, Wheeler said.
The planning application SSE plans to file later this year will include detailed proposals for the offshore infrastructure required, including offshore wind turbines, offshore substation platforms, and subsea cables, as well as an accompanying Environmental Impact Assessment for the offshore infrastructure.
In a statement issued on 11 May, SSE said that construction of the 800 MW project would require an investment of up to EUR 2.5 billion and that the company had been targeting first power in 2028 and completion in 2029, subject to securing a route to market and a final investment decision.
The developer noted that it completed an extensive public consultation on the project earlier this year, as well as seabed surveys of almost 2,000 square kilometres to gather high-resolution geophysical data to progress the ongoing design development of the project and inform engineering decisions and help to de-risk the project.
In 2022, the company secured planning permission from An Bord Pleanála for the onshore grid infrastructure necessary to connect the project to Ireland’s electricity transmission grid.
SSE also received the green light last year from Wicklow County Council for the development of an Operations and Maintenance Facility (OMF) at South Dock, Arklow Harbour.
Arklow Bank Wind Park II is planned to be the next phase of wind energy development at Arklow Bank after Phase 1, Arklow Bank Wind Park, was constructed in 2003/04 consisting of seven wind turbines with a capacity of 25.2 MW. Arklow Bank Phase 1 is owned and operated by GE Energy under a sublease to the foreshore lease and is the first and currently the only operational offshore wind farm in Ireland.
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