Winds are stronger and more consistent offshore than a comparable onshore wind project. There is greater potential to install larger turbines at sea relative to onshore. The combination of high wind speeds and larger turbines allows for more energy generation. Not only will an offshore wind farm generate more energy, but it will also generate energy on a more consistent basis. This makes it easier for the grid operator to integrate this renewable electricity source.
The Programme for Government (2020) has set ambitious targets for decarbonisation by 2030 with a plan to deliver at least 5GW of offshore wind by that date. Ireland now has a major opportunity to benefit from the significant reduction in the cost of offshore wind seen throughout Northern Europe in recent years.
The Celtic Sea has some of the best wind conditions in Europe for producing clean, renewable energy from offshore wind generation. While the metocean (the combined wind, wave and climate) conditions are more challenging than the East Coast from a construction and operation perspective, this area benefits from superior wind speeds. Studies of the sea bed using existing data sources indicate that the area off County Waterford is potentially suitable for developing an offshore wind farm project. The site was chosen for site investigation work because the relatively shallow waters (less than 65m depth) means that it is suitable for the installation of fixed foundation technology. It is located at a distance of approximately 10km (at the nearest point) from the coastline to minimise visual impact. The site assessment study also took account of potential connection options to the national grid. The project team is currently evaluating options to connect into the Cullenagh-Knockraha 220kV overhead line or an alternative connection into ESB’s Aghada power station in Cork.
A foreshore licence confers the holder with the right to undertake certain specified survey and site investigation works such as geotechnical investigations and wind resource measurement on a non-exclusive basis for a defined period of time within the foreshore. The foreshore is defined as the land and seabed between the high water mark of ordinary or medium tides (shown HWM on Ordnance Survey maps) and the twelve nautical mile limit. The licence does not represent any form of planning permission.