mars 27, 2023


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EDF and Fred Olsen chose Wicklow port for the wind farm base

Ireland’s largest wind farm could start generating electricity by 2027, but its developers warn that the planning process must be accelerated to ensure the republic meets climate targets.

European energy giants EDF and Fred Olsen are jointly investing at least €2 billion in Codling Wind Park, an offshore power plant in the Irish Sea that can provide electricity to up to 1.2 million homes.

Arno Verbeek, Codling’s project manager, predicted Friday that if the entire planning process goes according to schedule, the wind farm could start generating electricity in 2027-2028.

He was speaking after Codling Wind Park confirmed it had selected Wicklow Port as its base of operations and maintenance in a move that will create 115 jobs locally. Industry sources estimate the required investment at 15 million euros.

However, Mr. Verbeek said he shares the industry’s broader view that the state needs to speed up its planning process if it is to reach its goal of building enough offshore wind power to generate 5,000 megawatts of electricity, close to the current peak of the republic. the demand.

« In simple terms, things have to move much faster than now if we are to achieve those very ambitious targets of 5,000 megawatts by 2030, » warned Mr. Verbeek.

This applies to offshore and onshore planning actions, as well as to strengthening the national power grid to give it the ability to take thousands of megawatt-hours of energy from the Irish Sea.

Verbeek noted that the national grid operator, state-owned EirGrid, has plans to boost its network along the east coast, where most wind farms are planned. But he expected that EirGrid would encounter resistance from local communities when it came to carrying out the work and emphasized that they would need resources to complete it.

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« It takes a lot of effort and a lot of support from the local communities to get all this planning done, » Mr. Verbeek noted.

Planning Bill

He welcomed the fact that the Oireachtas is likely to pass the offshore area planning bill, which aims to modernize and regulate marine development, by the end of the year.

This will allow Codling and other developments to obtain the offshore district approvals needed to move forward with their plans next year.

Then they must obtain network connection agreements from EirGrid. This will allow them to bid to supply electricity at agreed rates through the state’s Renewable Energy Support Scheme auction, scheduled for the final months of 2022 or early the following year.

Once this is complete, projects like Codling will have to apply to An Bord Pleanála for permission. Processing can take up to 18 weeks, although opponents can appeal any decision in the courts.

Mr. Verbeek’s timing for completing Codling depends on all of this happening sequentially and on time.

Jobs at Wicklow will include 75 full-time maintenance personnel, technicians, engineers and administration, as well as 40 construction workers. Construction could start in 2025.

Codling did not say how much it would invest in its port facilities, but industry sources estimate the figure would be around 15 million euros.

Mr. Verbeek said momentum had built up behind the project in the past year. « We are keen to continue making progress, » he added.

Cllr Shay Cullen, a cathaoirleach of Wicklow County Council, called the news a « once in a lifetime » opportunity for the area.

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Codling Wind Park is located along the Irish Sea from Greystones to Wicklow. It will have the capacity to generate up to 1,500 megawatts of electricity.

It is a joint venture between EDF Renewables, part of Électricité de France, one of Europe’s largest power generators, and Fred Olsen Renewables, the leading Norwegian developer of green energy.