Wind energy in Ireland

A Dublin-based renewable energy company is seeking a foreshore licence to assess the suitability of two offshore wind farm sites in Irish waters.

SSE Renewables Ltd, of Red Oak South County Business Park, Leopardstown, has applied to the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government for permission to conduct a site investigation on 444 sq m of sea off the Port of Drogheda.
The company would hope to generate 800MW of energy on the site, some 18km offshore between Dunany Point, Co Louth, and Braymore Point, Co Dublin.

The company has also applied for a licence to survey a 689 sq km area about 25km off the Cork, Waterford and Wexford coastline.

This development would see a further 800MW wind farm developed in the Celtic Sea, in a region where, it is understood, the water depths make the area potentially suitable for technology to facilitate floating wind turbines.

The company says the proposed areas were chosen “following a phased site selection process” and a preliminary shipping and navigation assessment to ensure navigational risks were understood. The proposed geophysical, geotechnical and environmental surveys would enable detailed mapping of nearshore shallow geological and seabed character; mapping of seabed features; enhanced understanding of wind resource and met-ocean conditions and baseline environmental mapping.

Meanwhile, more than 20 residents have lodged an appeal with Bord Pleánala against planning for a mega-size solar farm in the west Comeragh region of Co Waterford.
Last May, Waterford Council granted planning for the 30MW farm on 35 and 12 acre sites respectively, in the townlands of Curraghduff and Mothel, about 6km from Carrick-on-Suir in Co Tipperary. The permission, to Dublin-based BNRG Renewables — operating as BNRGN Mothel Ltd — was granted despite 56 objections from residents in the area.

The company says the development will “provide enough power for approximately 7,200 homes” and “eliminate 12,900 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions over its lifespan”.

The residents say they do not object to renewable energy on principal but favour community ownership rather than the perceived commercialisation and industrialisation of prime farming land by what they consider to be corporate opportunists with no cultural or historical attachment to the area.

Locals fear the project could see 94 acres of same covered by glass or steel. One resident argued that solar panels should be placed on individual homes rather than forfeiting agricultural land.

Fears have also been expressed about the proximity of electromagnetic waves, glint and glare, water run-off from panels, wildlife wellbeing and traffic upheaval during construction.

The council imposed 22 conditions with its permission, including a 25-year operating period and the omission of some panels located adjacent to a dwelling at the Curraghduff site.

The board’s decision is expected by October 14.

Separately, BNRGN Mothel Ltd is also seeking 10-year permission for a 110kV electricity substation and related infrastructure to enable it to transfer electricity from the site to the national grid.