Irish renewable energy company DP Energy has started the process of developing its first offshore wind farm off the coast of Cork, which could involve an investment worth an estimated €1.76bn.
The company has sought an investigative foreshore licence from the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government to conduct a feasibility study of the Inis Ealga Marine Energy Park, which is to be located at least 10km from the shore of Co Cork.
DP Energy estimates the project could generate around 720 megawatts (MW) of wind energy a year, enough to supply the annual electricity needs of more than 700,000 homes. Based on figures from the UK, it could create up to 650 construction and maintenance jobs.
Simon De Pietro, co-owner of DP Energy, said the company was enthusiastic about contributing to the local economy and helping Ireland hit its renewable energy targets.
"DP Energy always had a headquarters here in Cork, so this is home," he said. "We are always looking at the Irish market and thinking 'we need to start doing something here'.
"Our view is, yes, onshore can help, it will play a role, and we are keen to get involved in that, considering our track record. But, if you want to make serious inroads in renewables and CO2, you need scale. Big offshore wind projects give you that - big capacity factors and a larger scale of development."
De Pietro said he hoped the project would be in action by 2030, with plans to utilise Cork harbour as a staging post for the development.
He added that DP Energy would seek a utility company to partner with on the Inis Ealga project, and other on and offshore projects in Ireland.
The co-owner of DP Energy also hopes the cost of the project - which is based on WindEurope's figure that investment cost per MW for offshore wind in Europe was €2.45m in 2018 - will come in lower than €1.76bn as the technology improves.
DP Energy was established by De Pietro and his mother Maureen in 2001. The pair developed a portfolio of Irish wind farm projects, which were sold in 2008 to ESB and Bord Gáis for around €30m.
It currently has several onshore wind, solar and tidal projects under development in Canada, Australia and Scotland.
In June, the Government published its Climate Action Plan to 2030, which included a commitment to generate 70pc of the State's energy requirements from renewables. It included a plan for 3.5 gigawatts worth of energy to come from offshore.