Northern Ireland powers up offshore wind energy and tidal energy

Plans to deploy up to 800MW of offshore wind turbines and tidal stream devices in Northern Irish waters by 2020 have taken a step forward after the Crown Estate invited companies to bid for projects.

The organisation responsible for the seabed launched a leasing round last week, following a design dicussion earlier this year to determine which areas of Northern Ireland’s waters were most attractive for development, and how leasing rights should be awarded.

A spokesman for the Crown Estate told BusinessGreen that it had received 20 responses to the poll in April from wind energy, wave energy, and tidal energy developers from across the UK, Republic of Ireland, and the rest of Europe.

It is now seeking to appoint one company to build a 600MW offshore wind farm off the south east coast of County Down, and multiple developers to deliver up to 200MW of tidal stream energy in the Rathlin Island and Torr Head strategic area, off the north east coast.

Development rights are now expected to be awarded by summer 2012, with bidders selected on their ability to complete projects by 2020. Northern Ireland Energy Minister Arlene Foster said she was very encouraged by the interest shown by developers so far.