Ireland Grants MACs for Seven Proposed Offshore Wind Projects

Credit: polack/AdobeStock
Credit: polack/AdobeStock

Ireland's Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan TD, on Friday issued Maritime Area Consents (MACs) to the first phase of seven offshore wind projects.

The government said the MACs granting represented a significant milestone in the delivery of offshore wind in Ireland

"The award of MACs ensures that only projects with the greatest viability to deliver Ireland’s ambitious energy targets can progress into the planning system," the government said.

The award of a MAC follows a comprehensive assessment, by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications, into each project’s financial and technical competency. This approach enables all Phase One projects to begin their pre-planning application engagement with An Bord Pleanála, the government said. An Bord Pleanála is Ireland’s national independent planning body that decides appeals on planning decisions made by local authorities as well as direct applications.

The award of a MAC also enables Phase One projects to participate in the ORESS 1, the first auction for offshore wind under the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS).  RESS 1 is expected to procure approximately 2.5GW of electricity generating capacity. 

Speaking following the award of the country's first offshore energy MACs, Minister Ryan said: "With the award of Maritime Area Consents [MACs] to seven Phase One projects today, we have given Ireland’s most viable and well-advanced offshore energy projects the opportunity to progress through the planning system and reach development. This is a significant milestone on the pathway to decarbonising our energy supply and securing energy independence. 

"These first Maritime Area Consents [MACs] have been carefully drafted to promote the speedy and efficient deployment of offshore renewable energy, while ultimately protecting the State’s rich and unique maritime resource, in line with the principles of the National Marine Planning Framework." 

Projects that have been granted a MAC will be required to apply for development permission and secure a route to market within set timeframes, ensuring project progression and maximizing benefits to the State, the government said.

Phase One projects are also required to pay an annual levy to the State under the terms of their MACs. 

Projects that won consents are Oriel Wind Park; Arklow Bank II; Bray Bank; Kish Bank; North Irish Sea Array; Codling Wind Park (Codling I and Codling II); Skerd Rocks. Kish Bank and Bray Bank proejcts are now called Dublin Array offshore wind farm project.

Dublin Array

Dublin Array is a proposed offshore wind farm, which will be located on the Kish Bank and Bray Bank, about 10 kilometres off the coast of South County Dublin and Wicklow. The project is being developed by RWE in partnership with Saorgus Energy, and is still in the design stage. It will comprise between 45 and 61 wind turbines, capable of generating between 600 and 900 megawatts (MW) of clean, renewable energy. 

Sven  Utermöhlen, CEO Wind Offshore RWE Renewables, said: “We warmly welcome the granting of this Maritime Area Consent to Dublin Array, taking this this nationally important wind farm another critical step closer to delivery. Dublin Array will be a sustainable source of clean, green renewable electricity for the Irish market. The awarding of the MAC means that Dublin Array can now move into the final planning stages of the project in 2023 and submit a planning application to An Bord Pleanála. We look forward to continued engagement with the public, as we finalise our planning stage design.”

The proposed wind farm will produce enough energy to supply up to approximately 840,000 homes at peak production.

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