ESB is a diversified, vertically integrated utility, majority owned by the Irish Government. ESB operates right across the electricity market in Ireland and the UK: from generation, through transmission and distribution to supply.
Equinor is a broad-based Norwegian energy company with significant international experience in developing and operating offshore wind.
ESB and Equinor formed a development partnership in 2019. The Partnership was established to draw on ESB’s deep understanding of the Irish energy market and Equinor’s global experience in offshore wind development. The collaboration is underpinned by shared values and a common objective to develop well-designed offshore wind projects of scale, taking into account the needs and interests of key stakeholders. Equinor’s offshore wind experience will complement ESB’s existing expertise of developing and operating generation projects in the Irish and UK markets.
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 windfarm generate more energy, it will generate energy on a more consistent basis. This makes it easier for the grid operator to integrate this renewable electricity source.
The Climate Action Plan has set ambitious targets for decarbonisation by 2030 with a plan to deliver at least 3.5GW of offshore wind by that date. The recently published Programme for Government increased that 2030 target to 5GW. 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 windfarm 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.