Winds are stronger and more consistent offshore than a comparable onshore wind project. There is greater potential to install larger turbines at sea relative to onshore. The combination of high wind speeds and larger turbines allows for more energy generation. Not only will an offshore wind farm generate more energy, but it will also generate energy on a more consistent basis. This makes it easier for the grid operator to integrate this renewable electricity source.
The Programme for Government (2020) has set ambitious targets for decarbonisation by 2030 with a plan to deliver at least 5GW of offshore wind by that date. Ireland now has a major opportunity to benefit from the significant reduction in the cost of offshore wind seen throughout Northern Europe in recent years.
The Irish Sea area has some of the best wind conditions in Europe for producing clean, renewable energy. Studies of the seabed using existing data sources indicate that the area off County Dublin/North Wicklow is potentially suitable for developing an offshore wind farm project. The site was chosen for site investigation work because the relatively shallow waters (less than 60m depth) means that it is suitable for the installation of fixed foundation technology. It is located at a distance of more than 10km from the coastline to minimise visual impact and if it is realised it will deliver electricity to the area of greatest national demand aiming to use an existing grid connection at Poolbeg Generating Station currently used for thermal generation. The proposed study area is located east of the Dublin Array project and north of the Codling site, both of which have been designated as Relevant Projects by the Government.
A foreshore licence confers the holder with the right to undertake certain specified survey and site investigation works such as geotechnical investigations and wind resource measurement on a non-exclusive basis for a defined period of time within the foreshore. The foreshore is defined as the land and seabed between the high water mark of ordinary or medium tides (shown HWM on Ordnance Survey maps) and the twelve nautical mile limit. The licence does not represent any form of planning permission.