British market behind expected windfarm green light

According to the Sunday Business Post, the developers behind a €1 billion windfarm off the coast of Dundalk anticipate the approval of planning permission to build the facility and are in discussions with multinational companies about partnering on the project.

Oriel Windfarm, which plans to build a facility with 55 turbines off the north-east coast, has already secured grid connection offers and is in the last phase of a consent (planning permission) process with the Department of Energy.

The project could create 550 construction jobs.

 Brian Britton, co-founder And managing director of Oriel and chairman of the National Offshore Wind Association of Ireland (Now Ireland), said that, in the last two to three weeks – following the announcement by British energy minister Charles Hendry that he believed Irish renewables would play a significant role in reaching British targets for 2020 – ‘‘market signals have changed’’.

‘‘This is an island of six million people and we only need a small portion of energy from offshore to reach our renewables target,” he said.

‘‘However, the recent announcement [at the meeting at the Irish-British Council on June 20] has totally changed the picture – because now Britain will pay a rate for our offshore energy production – and pay for the line or lines to export it there, to meet their 2020 renewable targets.

‘‘This was a major game changer and drew the interest of multinationals like Statoil, EDP and EDF.”

Britton said there were currently five offshore windfarm projects awaiting government consent.

They would have a capital cost of €8 billion and provide 2,680MWof energy.

Oriel is recognised as a ‘‘first mover’’ in the industry, because of the number of state agencies which have already approved it.

Britton has been in discussions with multinationals about the formation of a consortium to build the facility.

‘‘This whole sector could provide a huge opportunity for Ireland, as we finally have a proper joined-up planning process,” he said.

‘‘How many other new indigenous business opportunities do we have?

‘‘Where Ireland benefits is [that] it receives the lease fees, Vat, corporation tax on profits and job creation.

A transmission line, financed by the British or the developer, of around 60 or 80 miles could be built from windfarms off the east coast.

‘‘We could also export on from there to EU countries like Hungary or the Czech Republic – who do not have many resources for production of renewable energy. Funding is not required from the state.”

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