Northern Ireland Floating Offshore Wind Farm Comes Closer to Realization

North Channel

Published Feb 7, 2024 11:00 PM by The Maritime Executive


[By North Channel Wind]

Plans to develop the biggest ever green energy project in Northern Ireland, floating offshore wind energy in the North Channel of the Irish Sea, will take a step closer now Stormont has returned, say the principals of North Channel Wind.

The proposed wind farms could potentially generate clean, renewable electricity equivalent to over half of Northern Ireland’s electricity consumption. Project Director Niamh Kenny says the development can only progress with the Assembly is in place to legislate for various stages of the project.

“We have been engaging with The Crown Estate, which manages Northern Ireland’s seabed, to deliver a leasing round so we can bid to install the turbines,” says Ms Kenny.

“But NI needs an Offshore Connection Policy. This is a well-established principle in GB, but will require legislation in NI, and there are other aspects of the project which will also need policy makers’ input and ministerial sign-off so we can complete the installation and begin operations by 2030 to meet Northern Ireland’s renewable energy targets.”

“This is an ambitious but totally realistic proposal which would help secure NI’s electricity supply for decades to come. It is an opportunity for NI businesses to become involved through the supply chain. A recent study by BVG Associates found that 1.5 GW of offshore wind could be worth £1.9bn to NI suppliers over the lifetime of the development,” she says.

“The climate emergency is upon us. North Channel Wind is a critical part of the solution potentially generating 1GW of renewable, local, emissions-free electricity.”

A series of consultations were conducted with fishing and coastal communities last year along the east Antrim and Down coasts and more are expected in future.

In the meantime, North Channel Wind is pursuing a timeline which could see the wind turbines begin to supply the Northern Ireland grid in 2030. This would be in time to meet the ambitious NI target of 80% of electricity from renewable sources, which was set by the Assembly in 2022. Offshore wind is seen as a vital component in helping to achieve the targets.

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