The Irish Government has Selected Seven Offshore Wind Projects for Fast-Tracking

The Irish Government is committed under its Climate Action Plan to having at least 3.5 GW of offshore wind in Ireland in the next ten years.

This will help Ireland on its way to hitting its target of making electricity production 70% renewable by 2030.

Seven offshore wind projects have now been selected for fast-tracking. These are located at: Oriel, Bray Bank, Kish Bank, Codling 1, Codling 2, Skerd Rocks and the North Irish Sea Array (NISA).

The announcement means the project constructors can work on and update their applications under the new marine planning regime which will be introduced by the Marine Planning and Development Management Bill, 2020.

The Irish Times estimates that these projects add up to a total investment of almost €6 billion over 5 years. A number of large and experienced companies such as German Innogy, Norwegian Statkraft are showing interest. Others include Belgian Parkwind and Norwegian Fred. Olsen & Co, which once owned Harland & Wolff in Belfast.

Lib Dem County Councillor for Tring in Hertfordshire, Nick Hollinghurst commented,

"This story is far more complicated that it might appear. Irish involvement in off-shore wind - at least in terms of planning projects - goes back 20 years or more with very little being achieved. Unfortunately political mistakes on both sides of the Irish Sea deterred investors. On the Irish side in 2011, the then Labour Minister in Enda Kenny's Fine Gael-Labour coalition decided to not to extend financial support to offshore wind, and then proposals to sell electricity to the UK via a connector came to nothing because of lack of interest by the UK side - and of course finances were still difficult at that time following the Banking Crash in 2008."

"It now seems that there is now considerably political will for Ireland to make a success of its offshore wind energy potential. I hope that this time they will succeed."

"However, there are three further interesting points. The first is that Harland & Wolff, who are based in Belfast ln Northern Island, who have considerable experience in offshore wind, and who were once owned by a Fred Olsen subsidiary, are now owned by InfraStrata. This company specialises in strategic infrastructure development and acquisition - and describes itself as a company "co-financed by the European Union". The second point is that the generation and distribution of electricity and its marketing are, under the Good Friday Agreement, in a single all-Ireland market and the third point is that the EU is keen to import electricity from Ireland to give it a secure supply that could be an alternative to British uncertainty and unreliability.

InfraStrata are not at the moment being mentioned as potential partners for the develop of any of the seven potential Irish wind farms. But given the Harland & Wolff connection, the fact that Ireland is a single market for electricity, the financial support from the EU and the Irish ambition to export electricity, are InfraStrata really going to stand aloof from these developments? And if they do get involved how will the British feel about that?"

Based on a reports in Offshore Wind and the Irish Times.