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Plans set to be unveiled for another offshore wind farm off Waterford-Wexford coast

Another company is looking to enter the windfarm market off the coast of Waterford.

Ocean Winds has declared its intention to the county council to set up a windfarm capable of powering up to 657,000 homes.

They've told councillors that the project will be known as Celtic Horizon.

Speaking to WLR News, Councillor Joe Kelly says it looks set to be a sizeable development.

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"Although they say that they have not yet determined the number of turbines involved - I think it's safe to say that it could be anywhere between 80 to 100, possibly even 120. This is a different project to the one that many people are already aware of and that there are public meetings being organised upon."

Ocean Winds, are also aiming to hold a series of briefing sessions with local councillors in early September. 

Ocean Winds (OW) is the result of a joint venture announced in 2019 by EDP Renewables and ENGIE and OW is now a global leader in the offshore renewable energy sector. 

Both companies share a vision in which renewables, particularly offshore wind, play a key role in the global energy transition. 

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Ocean Winds strongly supports offshore renewable energy deployment in Ireland and the significant contribution they believe it will make to Ireland in decarbonising its economy and achieving the country’s 2030 renewable energy targets.

Ocean Winds is proposing the development of an offshore wind farm located in the Celtic Sea, off the coast of county Waterford and Wexford. The proposed wind farm array study area is located approximately 13.5km from mainland Wexford. Site investigation works will also be carried out on the proposed cable corridor and terrestrial study area to assess the suitability for the cable routing and terrestrial substation.

The proposed offshore wind development will be known as Celtic Horizon, and it is envisaged that the project could generate up to 700 Megawatts (MW) of clean renewable electricity, enough to power up to 657,000 Irish homes per annum. 

The proposed development will also facilitate job creation, vastly reduce reliance on imported oil and gas, and increase Ireland’s security of electricity supply while helping Ireland become carbon neutral by 2050. 

Based on current project timelines, it is envisaged that the project would be in commercial operation by 2030, with a lifespan of 25 to 30 years.

As the project is at an early stage, the size and number of turbines has not yet been determined. 

However, based on preliminary assessments, it is envisaged that the project could generate up to 700MW of clean renewable electricity. The project is proposing to use fixed bottom technology where the turbines sit on top of foundations installed in the seabed.

Cllr. Kelly says a primary point of concern will again be the distance off the shore that the turbines are located - with many likely to push for the European norm of at least 25km.

"They're saying that they want these turbines to be 13.5km off the shore - but most people will seek for them to be 20km to 22km off the shore even. They're deemed a visual intrusion. This, I think, is where a lot of the debate is going to be - both with this project and the existing Energia one. The issue of how far off the coast are these pylons going to be located."

In response to the Climate Emergency, the Irish Government within its Programme for Government and Climate Action Plan 2021, has committed to generating 80% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030. 

Ocean Winds are working on a bid to help deliver some of the 5GW of offshore wind which will be required to reduce Ireland’s reliance on fossil fuels and drive the transition to net zero carbon emissions by 2050. 

This proposed project will seek to bring significant environmental, economic and employment growth, supply chain opportunities and additional benefits to the local host communities.

The first step in defining the project design is applying to the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage for a foreshore licence to carry out surveys to assess the potential of the location for offshore wind farm development. 

The feedback from public consultation and site surveys completed under the foreshore licence will enable OW to refine this project design. 

As part of that process, they will apply for a seabed lease (Maritime Area Consent) to the new Maritime Area Regulatory Authority (MARA). In parallel, OW is commencing the environmental impact assessment process which will also feed into their project layout and design.

A full programme of community and stakeholder engagement is planned for the project with the first phase commencing this month. Phase One will see the launch of the project consultation website from tomorrow Wednesday August 17th, and OW holding a number of Community Engagement Clinics to facilitate local coastal and fisheries communities to engage with the project team, provide feedback and sign up to the project mailing list.

The Foreshore Licence Application (FLA) process is currently underway, and a statutory consultation process will form part of this.

A draft wind turbine layout indicating the number of turbines and their locations will be made available at the next stage of public consultation which is expected to take place in late 2022. The project team will be aiming to submit a Maritime Area Consent (MAC) application in the first half of 2023.

Meanwhile, two public meetings are being held today Tuesday August 16th regarding another offshore wind farm project from North Celtic Sea, which should it get the go ahead - would be one of the largest of its’ kind in Europe. 

For all the latest news in Waterford, click here.

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