Your browser is not supported. Please update it.

4 January 2023

Ireland takes first step towards 2030 7GW offshore wind target

The Republic of Ireland achieved a “significant milestone”, according to its government, as at the end of December 2022 a batch of Maritime Area Consents (MACs) for offshore wind projects have been issued. Seven new projects, amounting to 2.5GW, will enter the Irish planning system and are expected to take part in ORESS 1, the first round of offshore wind auctions set to take place in 2023.

Ireland set itself a target of 7GW of offshore wind capacity by 2030, up from just 25MW today, but the European country is no stranger to wind farms – 5.5GW of onshore wind farms are currently powering the entire island of Ireland (4.3GW belonging to the Republic of Ireland while the rest of 1.3GW belongs to Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom).

Not blessed with strong solar irradiance – highest values merely reaching 900kWh/m2 – Ireland acknowledged very early on, at the turn on the century, that all of its bets must be placed on wind and so it started installing onshore wind farms. Not met with a great deal of sympathy by the population and politicians of Ireland, the plans went ahead regardless of their concern over the alleged potential for wind farms to blight the scenic environment.

With around 75% of its electricity mix coming from wind (46%) and natural gas (29%) and the rest coming from coal, hydro, biofuels and waste, Ireland will be desperate to tip the balance towards renewables in an attempt to reduce its reliance on natural gas in accordance with the well- known price spike that resulted from the Russian Ukraine war. Ireland has set itself a target of 80% clean energy consumption by 2030.

Ireland plans to achieve this by also developing its onshore arsenal even further. Vestas, the giant Danish turbine OEM, has announced only a few days prior that it will supply 21 of its most powerful turbines – the V150-6.0 MW – to the Derrinlough 126MW project, due to become the country’s largest single wind farm once it becomes operational in 2024. The record-breaking project required an investment of $159 million which Bord na Mona was happy to pay in order to solidify its commitment to the energy transition, according to its renewables chief John Reilly.

The full list of the seven projects up for auction as part of ORESS 1 and their respective developers:

Codling Wind Park: 0.9-1.5GW developed by EDF and Fred Olsen Seawind;

Bray and Kish Bank: 0.6-0.9GW developed by RWE and Saorgus Energy;

Arklow Bank 2: 520MW-800MW developed by SSE Renewables;

North Irish Sea Array: 500MW developed by Statkraft;

Sceirde Rocks: 450MW developed by Corio Generation;

Oriel Windfarm: 370MW developed by Parkwind and ESB.

It’s not all plain sailing for wind though as news about US Power Purchasing Agreements for offshore projects no longer providing economic feasibility in light of the recession are only overshadowed by a Vestas turbine that caught fire – for reasons unknown – in Germany, last month.

Only a few months ago, oil and gas giant Shell pulled out of two combined 2.6GW offshore Irish wind projects, a move described as a “portfolio decision. ”

A more detailed overview of the immediate future of the wind industry can be accessed via a research paper titled “Wind industry blown off course by recession – promises a full recovery. ”