The €2bn floating windfarm 50km off the Wild Atlantic Way could fuel fishing fleet
Ireland’s largest fishing industry organisation, the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation (KFO), is to become a partner in a major floating windfarm project that could see billions of euro invested off the coast of Donegal.
The organisation signed a memorandum of understanding in recent days with Swedish renewable energy developer Hexicon to advance a massive two gigawatt project located 50km to 80km off the coast.
The proposed energy project, which would likely require investment of at least €2bn over a number of stages, would feed into the national grid – but could also potentially be used to generate green hydrogen to fuel the Killybegs’ fishing fleet.
Hexicon and the KFO intend to apply for a Marine Area Consent (MAC) under the new Marine Area Planning Act by 2025 with a view to building the first 1GW phase of the project by 2027.
Killybegs-based marine services firm Sinbad Marine Services has also agreed to come on board, it is understood.
“We are very excited about this. Ireland as a market has a huge wind resource in vast areas that are extremely suitable for floating wind,” said Hexicon CEO Marcus Thor.
“The really important thing for us is that as we map this out over the next year, to choose locations and numbers of turbines and other details. We are doing it in a coexistence model with local stakeholders.”
Nasdaq-listed Hexicon is at advanced stages of floating wind project development in Norway and the UK, with other projects in Spain, Sweden, South Africa and South Korea.
Thor said that he envisaged that the memorandum of understanding was the first step in the KFO and Sinbad becoming full partners in the project.
“Our business model is to fund development to a certain stage, before bringing in major funding partners. We don’t have the balance sheet anywhere near funding €2bn – but we now have a group of originating partners who can make it something that is investable, and then funding can be brought in to realise it.”
KFO CEO Seán O’Donoghue said he saw the partnership as “an enormous boost to Killybegs and Donegal in general”.
“There has been a lot of acrimony about offshore wind energy, particularly on the east and south coasts. We set out our stall that there had to be a new approach. The exciting thing is that between us we have developed what – certainly from a fisheries point of view – is a first in the world.
“We weren’t interested in talking to developers who were drawing lines on maps, arriving into our offices and saying: ‘This is where we want to put our wind turbines, have you an objection?’ We wanted to be involved from the start – and Hexicon is fully on board with that.”
Thor said it was crucial from the outset to have a partner “that not only is a stakeholder that can support the consenting process, but knows the project area better than anyone else”.
O’Donoghue said a wind energy partnership would not conflict with the KFO’s fishing remit.
“We have huge difficulties on the fishing side of things. But at the end of the day, Killybegs is extremely resilient. We see this as something that could generate additional income, but not at the expense of fishing.
“We have fleets that are tied up for a significant part of the year – so, for example, we see no reason why we cannot utilise them in this development.”