Work has begun planning an offshore wind project near the Kinsale Gas Fields that could produce up to 1GW of energy through 67 floating wind turbines.
Simply Blue Energy (Kinsale) has lodged a foreshore licence application to carry out survey works off the Cork coast as part of its Emerald Project which it says has the potential to replace 16.5% of current fossil fuel-derived electricity in Ireland.
The investigative foreshore licence application lodged with the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government seeks consent to conduct surveys to investigate options for bringing cables ashore, for a wind farm that would be located between 35km to 60km from the Cork coast in depths of water of around 85 to 90m.
They said the distance from shore mitigates against potential visual impact. “The project envisions the transformation of the maritime landscape in the area of the Kinsale gas platform into a zone for the production of clean, renewable offshore wind energy, in support of Ireland's need to decarbonise the economy and ensure security of energy supply.”
Emerald is intended to be delivered as a staged development starting with a demonstration array of six to seven turbines approximately 100MW and building to an overall capacity of 1GW with 67 turbines upon final completion.
If developed, the company said it will utilise floating offshore wind technology to construct a wind farm which they said could generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 47% of the homes in the country.
If the foreshore application is approved Simply Blue Energy plans to begin survey work in summer of 2021 with a staged series of investigations over the subsequent five years as the project reaches the detailed design stage.
Sam Roch-Perks, Managing Director of Simply Blue Energy said Ireland has massive unrealised potential for offshore wind energy production, particularly on the south and west coasts
"With a sea area 10 times that of our landmass, we have a chance to catch and become a leader in offshore wind energy production both in Europe and globally, allowing us to become the 'Green Gulf' of renewable energy.”
The floating wind farm proposal is the latest in a series of such developments planned for the Irish and Celtic Seas.
The Department is already considering a separate foreshore application that could lead to the development of a 700MW wind farm called Inis Ealga by Cork energy company DP Energy Ireland (DPEI) that would be located off the Cork and Waterford coasts.
Due to the expected increase in offshore wind projects in Ireland, Dutch company XELLZ is to establish an offshore wind supply base adjacent to Rosslare Port.
The company has secured approximately 200,000 sqm of land adjacent to the port that will be used to serve and support future offshore wind farms.