Developers behind the Republic’s biggest offshore wind farm are cutting the number of turbines planned for the project ahead of public consultations this month.
Energy giants EDF Renewables and Fred Olsen Seawind are jointly investing an estimated €2 billion in Codling Wind Park, an offshore power plant in the Irish Sea capable of supplying electricity up to 1.2 million homes.
Codling’s project team said on Tuesday that the offshore electricity plant’s first phase will now need 100 turbines, almost one third less than the 140 originally proposed. Recent advances in turbine technology combined with a more detailed understanding of the wind farm site in the Irish Sea prompted the decision, the company said.
Separately, national grid operator Eirgrid has confirmed that Codling will connect to its network at Poolbeg in Ringsend, Dublin. This will allow the wind farm to supply up to a maximum of 1,450 mega watts (MW) of electricity to homes and businesses once it is complete.
Both developments come as the company prepares to discuss its plans in detail with the public during a second consultation planned to run from January 11th to February 8th. That consultation will include exhibitions in Wicklow and Poolbeg, online demonstrations and a series of information sessions. Codling said that these will provide more details on the various on- and offshore environmental and technical surveys that it is carrying out as part of the project.
The company will include the public’s feedback in updated proposals that it will present at a third phase of consultations later this year.
It plans to build the farm on a site around 13km to 22km off the Co Wicklow coast between Greystones and Wicklow Town.
Scott Sutherland, Codling project co-director, said the company had made significant progress since its first public consultation in March 2021.
The Government last month gave the project a marine area consent, a key stage in the offshore planning process. Together with the grid connection agreement, the consent also means Codling can bid to supply power through the Offshore Renewable Energy Support Scheme.
This auction, overseen by Eirgrid, will run later this year and award contracts to offshore wind farm owners to supply electricity at a fixed price, which the market supervisor guarantees. The auction’s conditions require potential bidders to have marine area consents and grid connection agreements before participating. If Codling succeeds in getting a contract through the auction it will then apply to An Bord Pleanála for permission to build the wind farm.
“Our total focus now is on progressing the Codling Wind Park project through the Offshore Renewable Energy Support Scheme auction and into planning,” said Mr Sutherland.
He added that Codling could provide 20 per cent of the Republic’s offshore renewable electricity target by 2030.
Actual construction could begin in 2026 and the wind farm should be ready to supply electricity around three years after that point.
Once it is built, Codling will be Ireland’s biggest offshore wind farm. Construction will create 1,000 jobs while the plant will employ 75 full-time jobs at its operations and maintenance base in Wicklow port.