UPDATED: Irish Government Designates 900 MW Area for Next Offshore Wind Auction, Work on Tender Design Underway
NOTE: The original article “Irish Government Designates 700 MW Area for Next Offshore Wind Auction, Work on Tender Design Underway”, published on the 14th of July, has been updated following information from the Irish Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC) that the grid capacity available for auction in ORESS 2.1 has been upgraded from 700 MW to 900 MW since the Phase Two Statement in March.
The Irish government has opened a consultation process on the principles for the design of the country’s Phase Two offshore wind auctions under the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (ORESS 2). The first auction, ORESS 2.1, is planned to be launched by the end of this year or early next year and will offer a 900 MW area off Ireland’s South coast.
Through the consultation, which is running until 25 August, the stakeholders will provide feedback on key design principles to help ensure ORESS 2 auctions are attractive to the offshore wind industry, deliver a route to market for significant amounts of clean renewable energy, and ensure value for money for electricity consumers, according to a press release from the government.
ORESS 2 auctions will be geographically aligned with available onshore grid capacity, with the first auction to be organised for the development of offshore wind projects within Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Designated Areas under the country’s Designated Maritime Area Plan (DMAP).
The government published the first DMAP Proposal for Offshore Renewable Energy on 13 July, the same day it also officially launched the new permitting authority, the Maritime Area Regulatory Authority (MARA).
The area proposed to be awarded in the upcoming ORESS 2.1 will be located off the South coast of Ireland, where Ireland’s transmission system operator EirGrid has identified currently available onshore grid capacity for further offshore wind connections of approximately 900 MW in total. This additional offshore wind capacity, coming after the capacities awarded to the Irish Phase One projects earlier this year, is intended to be split into two connections of approximately 450 MW at two locations.
ORESS 2.1 participants will compete for support to develop 450 MW offshore wind projects within each of these sites, or a 900 MW project within a single ORE Designated Area.
This first ORE DMAP only comprises an initial, proposed geographical area within which future offshore renewable energy development may take place, which will be further refined following public engagement and consultation, environmental impact assessments and other expert analysis of the maritime areas.
The government will publish a Draft DMAP, which is anticipated to encompass a significantly smaller footprint than the one initially outlined in the proposal, after completing public consultation. Following this, a further statutory public consultation will take place, before the Draft DMAP is presented to the Minister for Housing and both houses of the Oireachtas for approval, according to the government’s press release.
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The location of subsequent Phase Two designated areas and ORESS 2 auctions will be determined by the availability of additional onshore grid capacity that may arise should Phase One projects fail to achieve a route to market or planning consent, according to information available on the government’s website.
In the consultation document issued this month, the Irish government states that a second Phase Two auction is planned to be held shortly after the first one, later in 2024, and that this round will focus on DMAP(s) off Ireland’s East coast.
Beyond Phase Two and the goal of having 5 GW of offshore wind installed by 2030, the Irish government also plans Phase Three, which targets an initial 2 GW of floating wind capacity off our South and West coasts. These projects are expected to be in development by 2030 and may include projects available for green hydrogen production and other non-grid uses.
Earlier this year, Ireland’s Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Simon Coveney, also announced plans to develop a National Industrial Strategy for Offshore Wind which will set out how Ireland can maximise the economic opportunity arising from the production of offshore wind energy.
While for 2030 the country’s Offshore Energy Programme includes a target to deliver 5 GW of offshore wind and a further 2 GW of floating wind, Ireland’s total target for offshore wind by 2050 is at least 37 GW.
The National Industrial Strategy for Offshore Wind will be developed with the objective of ensuring that Ireland fully captures the value of both the supply chain to deliver an offshore wind sector at scale, and the routes to market for offshore wind projects.
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