870MW offshore wind farm agreement signed for Irish Sea

9 Jul 2015

Pictured at the announcement was Brian Britton, Managing Director Oriel Windfarm Limited, Brendan McGrath, CEO Gaelectric and Dr Mark Coughlan, NISA Project Manager. Image via Conor McCabe Photography

A memorandum of agreement has been signed between Irish renewable energy companies Gaelectric and Oriel Windfarm to build a 15MW demonstration wind farm project in the Irish Sea, with plans for a future 870MW development.

To be called the North Irish Sea Array (NISA), the project is expected to create 150 jobs during the construction phase, while 30 new long-term jobs will be provided for the north-east region when construction is complete.

When completed, the NISA will be the first major offshore renewable energy project to be developed in the Irish Sea since the construction of the Arklow Bank Wind Farm by GE Electricity in 2001.

To kickstart the project, the companies will develop the 15MW demonstration farm as part of an €80m investment and will play host to international companies looking to use the Irish Sea as a testing ground for new innovations in offshore wind energy technology.

Ireland is believed to be sitting on a figurative goldmine when it comes to offshore wind energy, with the Government’s 2014 Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan suggesting that there was the potential to generate up to 10,000MW of renewable energy from offshore wind energy off the Irish coast.

To put this into perspective, Europe in 2014 saw the deployment of 1,500MW-worth of wind turbines in offshore deployment.

Commenting, Brian Britton, managing director of Oriel Windfarm, said: “This project represents the biggest step forward for the Irish offshore wind energy sector in the last 10 years. NISA will commence with a significant demonstration project, which by their nature draw investment and attract collaborations with local universities and provide opportunities for local businesses. Demonstration projects in the UK, Germany and Denmark have led to the development of full-scale projects, leading to the creation of many thousands of jobs in those countries.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic