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File photo of an offshore wind project off the Cumbrian Coast in the UK. Alamy Stock Photo
offshore wind

Four successful bidders in Ireland's first offshore wind contract auction revealed

The Government’s climate targets require 70% of electricity to be generated from renewable sources by 2030.

LAST UPDATE | 11 May 2023

THE FOUR successful bidders in Ireland’s first auction for offshore wind contracts have been announced. 

The projects that have won out are: North Irish Sea Array and Dublin Array, which will both be off the Dublin coast, Codling Wind Park off the coast of Wicklow, and Sceirde Rocks off the coast of Galway. 

These contract offers are provisional and will be confirmed next month.

The average price for renewable energy agreed with these contractors at auction was  €86.05/MWh on average. 

While Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications has stated that the price is one of the “lowest” paid by “an emerging offshore wind market in the world”, Sinn Féin has stated that the costs will be “more than €20 above the European average of €65/MWh.”

The Department has stated that the auction has procured over 3GW of capacity from four offshore wind projects, which represents over 12TWh* (Terawatt-hours) of renewable electricity per year.

This is the largest amount of renewable energy Ireland has ever secured at an auction, and it is equivalent to over a third of Ireland’s entire electricity consumption this year. 

“It is also enough to power over 2.5 million Irish homes with clean electricity and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 1 million tonnes in 2030,” the Department has stated. 

Welcoming the provisional results of the auction, Minister Eamon Ryan said that they are “ further evidence of what many of us have known for a long time; that we, as a nation, can develop and produce enormous quantities of clean energy – securely and at low cost.”

He added that further offshore wind auctions are being developed. 

Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on environment and climate action, Darren O’ Rourke, said that today’s results are a “milestone” in Ireland’s energy transition. 

However, he added that the auction has delivered “high prices” that reflect “ongoing, systemic and concerning problems”. 

 “The government will present this as progress but, in truth, we are still floundering when compared to our international counterparts. 

“The most recent Scottish auction delivered at €42/MWh. Ireland has a wind resource that means we have the potential to become a world leader in renewables production. However, this government seems totally determined to totally squander this opportunity,” O’ Rourke added. 

The TD further said that the “high prices” secured in this auction have assumptions built into them about constraints on the grid, high connection costs, and anticipated delays in planning. 

“Had these well-flagged issues been addressed, prices would have been lower,” he added. 

As part of the Government’s climate targets, 70% of electricity needs to be generated from renewable sources by 2030.

Seven projects have been granted permission to proceed with the first phase of each development. 

Those current projects are mainly due to be situation off the east coast and one is due to be located off the west coast.

The projects are: Oriel Wind Park, the Arklow Bank II, the Bray Bank, the Kish Bank, the North Irish Sea Array, the Codling Wind park and the west coast-based Skerd Rocks project.

A new planning body called the Maritime Area Regulatory Authority is being formed to handle applications for offshore wind projects.

A government framework published in January has set out coastal communities hosting  offshore wind projects will financially benefit as generators will have to pay them a substantial amount each year.

The payments will go into “community benefit funds”, and the amount paid will depend on the amount of energy generated. 

Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan said at the time that the funds could amount to €4 million per year from a typical offshore wind project and almost €20 million per year from all the projects. 

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