Sunday 17 December 2017

Wind farm on track following connection to UK grid

John Mulligan

A consortium led by Eddie O'Connor's Mainstream Renewable Power remains on track to construct the bulk of a massive 5,000 sq km offshore wind farm by 2020 after it secured a connection to the UK's national grid for the first phase of the project yesterday.

The consortium -- SmartWind -- also includes German industrial giant Siemens, and is planning to spend a total of £15bn (€17.6bn) to build the wind farm off England's Yorkshire coast.

It is intended that the so-called Hornsea project will use about 1,000 wind turbines to generate a maximum of 4 gigawatts of electricity at peak capacity, equivalent to about 4pc of the UK's total current electricity demand.

Yesterday's agreement secured connection to the grid for the first gigawatt of output, which is expected to be online by 2014, with the remaining 3 gigawatts being phased in over the following six years.

SmartWind chairman Andy Kinsella said the connection agreement was a "hugely significant step" for the project.

He added that the consortium also remained "very focused" on reducing the cost of energy, describing the push as "vital" for the long-term success of the industry.

Ownership of SmartWind is split equally between Siemens Project Ventures and Mainstream.

SmartWind began surveys earlier this year for the entire project, which will have turbines placed between 34km and 190km offshore.

The licence for the development was issued late last year as the UK's Crown Estate granted permission for a number of projects.

Mr O'Connor, a former chief executive of Bord na Mona, founded Mainstream Renewable Power in 2009 after his previous venture, Airtricity, in which utilities group NTR was a majority investor, was sold to Scottish & Southern Energy.

Investors in Mainstream include Barclay Capital, which has injected €20m into the group.

Irish Independent

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