Oriel Windfarm and Gaelectric are to invest €80 million as they co-develop an offshore wind farm in the north Irish Sea.
Up to 150 jobs are to be created during the construction of the project along with 30 new long-term jobs for the north-east.
The NISA (North Irish Sea Array) will be the first big offshore renewable energy project to be developed in the Irish Sea since the construction of the Arklow Bank Wind Farm by GE Electricity in 2001.
Brian Britton, managing director of Oriel Windfarm, said the project “represents the biggest step forward for the Irish offshore wind energy sector in the last 10 years”.
“NISA will commence with a significant demonstration project which, by their nature, draw investment and attract collaborations with local universities and provide opportunities for local businesses,” he added.
“Offshore wind speeds, relatively shallow water depth and favourable seabed conditions make the Irish Sea an ideal location for offshore wind projects and as a testing ground for offshore wind technologies,” said Brendan McGrath, CEO of Gaelectric.
“We are confident that the project will attract leading industry players to the offshore Irish market and will be an important step towards realising the vast potential for renewable generation from the Irish Sea.”
The NISA has the potential to produce up to 870 MW of wind energy from the Irish Sea and will commence with the development of a 15 MW demonstration project entailing an investment of €80 million.
The initial investment will be a key first step towards the realisation of the much larger NISA development. It will provide the necessary catalyst for further projects, strengthen Ireland’s indigenous renewable sector providing sustainable jobs and help meet critical climate change targets.
Ireland has one of the largest offshore wind resources in the world. The government’s Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan, published in 2014, indicated the potential to generate up to 10,000 MW of renewable energy from offshore wind energy. Internationally, offshore wind is the most rapidly growing source of renewable energy.