Gaelectric and Oriel eye huge 540MW wind energy development in Irish Sea
Irish renewable energy companies Gaelectric and Oriel Windfarm will look to jointly commence development on as much as 540 megawatts of wind energy in the Irish Sea if a smaller project goes according to plan.
The two firms yesterday announced that they have signed a memorandum of understanding to co-develop a 15mw wind farm entailing an investment of €80m. It is expected that development will start next year and the site will be operational by 2018.
The two companies hope this 15mw "demonstration project" will prove that offshore wind is commercially viable in Irish waters and will help attract a development partner for a much larger 540mw venture called the North Irish Sea Array (NISA).
Gaelectric and Oriel Windfarm are to act as local partners on the NISA development, managing the planning process and engagement with the local community and authorities while attempting to secure a larger development partner to help bring the project to completion.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, Oriel Windfarm managing director Brian Britton said that the firms will apply for a foreshore construction lease for the NISA project once a new foreshore development bill is passed through the Dail, which he expects to be this autumn.
Oriel Windfarm also has a conditional foreshore lease for a separate 330mw turbine array off the coast of Dundalk, which Mr Britton says the company will look to develop in parrell with the NISA project.
Mr Britton estimated that the potential investment on the two projects could be as much as €2.6bn.
"Once the new legislation goes through we will be putting in an application for the 540mw development," he said.
"We would see the NISA site happening after Oriel. I would say that Oriel will be finished by about 2021 and NISA by about 2022.
"The cost of offshore wind is about €3m per megawatt, so Oriel would probably cost about €900m to €1bn while NISA would be about €1.6bn," he added.
Meanwhile, a majority stake in a Co Wexford wind farm has been put up for sale by UK fund manager Impax Asset Management.
Industry publication 'SparkSpread' said that Impax is seeking indicative offers by the end of this month for the 51p holding in the 24mw Ballycadden wind farm. The wind farm was developed at a cost of €40m.