SSE Renewables gets green light for Arklow Bank grid development

31 May 2022

Arklow Bank Wind Park. Image: SSE Renewables

The second phase of the Arklow Bank offshore windfarm by SSE Renewables could potentially power almost 850,000 homes annually.

SSE Renewables has the green light to develop the onshore grid infrastructure necessary to connect the second phase of its Arklow Bank Wind Park project to Ireland’s electricity grid.

The renewables company has been granted planning permission from An Bord Pleanála in what it described as a “historic” move for Ireland’s offshore wind sector. SSE is now the first company to secure planning permission to develop onshore transmission grid infrastructure for an Irish offshore windfarm.

An Bord Pleanála has also approved the development of a 220kV substation at Avoca River Business Park in Arklow. This includes an associated connection from the new substation to the existing national transmission network.

It also includes an underground cable route and associated infrastructure connecting the substation to the landfall point in Arklow where it will meet the planned subsea offshore cables connecting to the windfarm.

The planning decision comes as SSE Renewables is set to apply for a Maritime Area Consent, as part of the Irish Government’s new Maritime Area Planning Act, to allow it to seek planning permission for offshore infrastructure including wind turbines, offshore substation platforms and subsea cables.

‘Critical milestone’

The 800MW second phase of the Arklow Bank wind development will be located in an area situated six to 13km off the Co Wicklow coastline. It builds on the existing seven GE-owned turbines that comprise the operational first phase of the wind park.

The development will have the potential to power almost 850,000 homes annually and could potentially offset around 830bn kilograms of harmful carbon emissions each year.

The offshore wind energy project is expected to require an investment of up to €2.5bn. It is expected to deliver its first power in 2028 ahead of completion in 2029, subject to a final investment decision.

Kaj Christiansen, Arklow Bank development manager at SSE Renewables, called An Bord Pleanála’s decision a “critical milestone” in the development of the wind energy project.

“This consent is the culmination of almost three years of work by members of our project team and our consultants Arup,” he added.

Last year, SSE Renewables revealed its plans to develop a €15m support base for the Wicklow project, which is looking to tap into Ireland’s offshore wind potential.

“This is the first ever planning decision for any component of an offshore windfarm of scale in Ireland. It marks a significant step forward for the country, for our planning authorities and for industry as we work collaboratively to deliver offshore wind in Ireland at scale,” Christiansen continued.

“The decision also brings SSE Renewables a step closer in delivering the next phase of Arklow Bank Wind Park, and our ambition to unlock investment, deliver jobs and local community benefits, and critically help achieve Ireland’s climate action targets by 2030.”

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Blathnaid O’Dea was a Careers reporter at Silicon Republic until 2024.