Ireland Releases Draft Plan for South Coast Offshore Wind Farms

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Ireland released a draft of its plan to designate four areas off the south coast for offshore wind projects and proceed to auctions. It follows the successful first offshore auction in May 2023 where over 3 GW of capacity was procured from four offshore projects.

The Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan, released the plan on May 3 highlighting that it is Ireland’s first-ever spatial plan for renewable energy at sea. The draft South Coast Designated Maritime Area Plan (DMAP) identifies four maritime areas off the south coast in which development of offshore renewable energy is proposed to take place over the next decade.

The four maritime areas proposed for offshore energy projects were identified according to the minister following a comprehensive environmental assessment process and an almost year-long engagement process with coastal communities and stakeholders. He said that protecting the marine environment and biodiversity and supporting citizens reliant on the sea for their livelihood are central to the sustainable development of the south coast’s offshore energy potential.

The draft plan proposes that a first offshore wind project with a capacity of approximately 900 MW will take place in “Tonn Nua,” off the coast of County Waterford, and will aim for deployment by 2030. The area is more than 120 square miles located at least nearly eight miles from shore. It has a mean water depth of 187 feet.

Over the next decade, the plan also proposes further offshore wind projects will be developed off the coast of Country Waterford as well as two sites off the south coast of County Wexford. They include “Li Ban” which would be at least 18 miles from Country Waterford at its nearest point. The “Manannan” site would be nearly 17 miles from Country Wexford while the “Danu” site would be a similar distance also from Country Wexford.

The draft design for the auction is now available for public comments running through June 7, 2024. The ministry notes that it may choose to revise the plan based on feedback, The auction is planned to commence before the end of 2024.

The first auction in May 2023 created the potential for the delivery of over 12 Terawatt hours of renewable electricity per year. Ireland’s Climate Action Plan 2024 commits to achieving at least 5 GW of installed offshore wind capacity by 2030. A further 2 GW is designated for the production of green hydrogen and other non-grid uses. 

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