SSE Renewables is to submit the first ever planning application for the onshore grid infrastructure needed to connect an expanded Arklow Bank wind farm to the national grid. The move represents a significant milestone in the rollout of offshore wind in Ireland.
The application will be made in coming weeks to An Bord Pleanála. SSE Renewables will seek to develop the onshore grid infrastructure necessary to connect the 520MW phase 2 of Arklow Bank Wind Park in the Irish Sea.
The proposed development includes a 220 kilovolt substation at Avoca River Business Park in Arklow, Co Wicklow and an underground cable route connecting the proposed substation to the landfall point at Johnstown North, where it will meet the planned subsea offshore cables connecting to the wind farm.
SSE Renewables is developing phase 2 of Arklow Bank, a 520-megawatt wind park six to 13km off the Co Wicklow coastline and at a cost of over €2 billion. It will build on the existing seven GE-owned turbines at the location.
The project is the country’s first offshore wind farm of scale and aims to be generating power by 2025, said Arklow Bank project manager James O’Hara. It has the potential to reduce the State’s annual carbon emissions by around 1 per cent, offsetting over half a million tonnes of harmful CO2, he confirmed.
A total of 27 offshore wind projects are in planning with the first tranche scheduled for the Irish Sea using fixed turbines, while a number of large floating wind farms are proposed for off the south and west coasts.
“We’re very proud that we have reached this important milestone,” Mr O’Hara said. “This imminent submission is the culmination of almost two years of work by members of our project team.”
“This will not only kickstart delivery of Ireland’s offshore wind targets, helping hit our national 7 per cent annual carbon reduction targets and bringing us a step closer to meeting our ambitious climate action targets, it will also drive local investment and create local jobs,” he said.
Members of the public are being invited to participate in a consultation process by An Bord Pleanála. The application will be submitted by SSE Renewables through its wholly-owned subsidiary Sure Partners Limited.
An environmental impact and Natura impact assessment will be available during the consultation process opening on May 5th and closing on June 24th.
Once operational, the project will have the capacity to power almost 450,000 homes with green energy and offset over half a million tonnes of carbon emissions each year, Mr O’Hara said. Around 80 people will employed at its operations and maintenance facility in Arklow harbour. It is expected that a multi-million-euro annual community fund will be established, he added.