Plans for the country’s biggest offshore wind farm go on display today as part of a first phase of public consultation on the project.
The Codling Wind Park proposed for off the Co Wicklow coast could generate up to 1,500 megawatts of electricity – enough to power 1.2 million homes.
As currently designed, it would comprise 140 of the largest wind turbines in the world, reaching up to 320m high.
These would be spaced out along a 16km stretch of sea between Greystones and Wicklow town, around 13km off the coast.
Joint venture developers, EDF Renewables and Fred Olsen Renewables, say they will be ready to submit planning applications to An Bord Pleanála for the park and onshore support structures late this year or early in 2022.
With the necessary permits, they could begin construction in 2024 or 2025 and have the park completed two to three years later.
However, the work will have to receive Maritime Area Consents, a new form of permit for development at sea which will be introduced when the Marine Planning and Development Bill becomes law. The bill is still in draft form.
The initial phase of public consultation will take place over the next three weeks and include a virtual exhibition, two webinars hosted by the project team and a series of virtual information clinics to enable individuals and small groups to meet with project representatives.
Project director Arno Verbeek said: “We are in the early stages of planning our project and this is the first of many opportunities people will have to see our progress and provide their feedback.
“Feedback is incredibly important to us, and we hope that many people will take the time to view our initial plans and share their thoughts with us.
“This input will help us to shape and design the project in the months ahead.”
Offshore wind parks are a key part of the Climate Action Plan which requires a rapid increase in the amount of electricity produced from renewable sources.
Just under 40pc of the country’s electricity comes from renewables, mainly onshore wind farms, but that needs to rise to 70pc by 2030.
By that time the amount of electricity needed to power the country is expected to have risen by up to 55pc.
EDF and Fred Olsen say the Codling Wind Park could generate 1,000 construction jobs and 70 long-term locally based jobs once the site becomes operational.
Co Wicklow’s coastline currently hosts the only offshore wind park in the country, a seven-turbine development off Arklow which began operating in 2004.
Another park is planned for off the Arklow coast, south of the Codling area, and the Dublin Array project is proposed for an area beginning north of Codling, off the coast of Bray and stretching up across Dublin Bay.
A development at Codling was first proposed in 2005, with preliminary consents being granted for up to 220 wind turbines but it did not proceed.
Those turbines were expected to be no taller than 160m, with rotor diameters of up to 120m.
However advances in technology mean the new turbines could be twice as tall with rotors more than double the length.
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