A significant milestone on the road to kickstarting delivery of Ireland’s offshore wind targets has been reached this week as notice has been given of the intention to submit the first-ever planning application for the onshore grid infrastructure needed to connect an offshore wind farm to Ireland’s national transmission grid.
The application will be made in the coming weeks by leading renewable energy developer SSE Renewables to Ireland’s planning board, An Bord Pleanála, seeking planning permission to develop the onshore grid infrastructure necessary to connect the 520MW Phase 2 of Arklow Bank Wind Park to Ireland’s electricity transmission grid.
The proposed development includes a 220kV substation at Avoca River Business Park in Arklow, Co. Wicklow, with an associated transmission compound, connection compound and connection from the new substation to the existing national transmission network.
The plans also include an underground cable route connecting the proposed substation to the landfall point at Johnstown North, Arklow, where it will meet the planned subsea offshore cables connecting to the wind farm.
SSE Renewables is actively developing Phase 2 of Arklow Bank Wind Park which will be located in a lease area situated six to 13km off the Co. Wicklow coastline, to the east of Arklow. The Arklow Bank Wind Park Phase 2 development, which builds on the existing GE-owned seven turbines that comprise the operational first phase of the wind park, is poised to become the country’s first offshore wind farm of scale as it aims to be generating power by 2025. The offshore wind farm has the potential to reduce Ireland’s annual carbon emissions by around 1%, offsetting over half a million tonnes of harmful CO2 .
This application represents a significant milestone for the offshore wind industry as it the first time in Ireland’s history that a developer will seek consent for such infrastructure. The application will be submitted to An Bord Pleanála by SSE Renewables through its wholly-owned subsidiary Sure Partners Limited.
James O’Hara, Arklow Bank Project Manager at SSE Renewables, said: “We’re very proud that we have reached this important milestone. This imminent submission is the culmination of almost two years of work by members of our project team and is the first-ever application for onshore transmission grid infrastructure for an offshore wind farm in Ireland, marking yet another significant step forward in the delivery of the country’s first offshore wind farm of scale. We’re ready to be generating new offshore wind power at Arklow Bank by 2025. 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.”
Members of the public are being invited to participate in a statutory consultation process which is being run by An Bord Pleanála. As part of the application process, a full Environmental Impact Assessment Report and Natura Impact Assessment have been prepared and will be available to the public throughout the statutory consultation process. This process will commence from 5 May 2021 and close on 24 June 2021.
SSE Renewables, through its subsidiary Sure Partners, has also applied to the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage for a Foreshore Licence to facilitate site investigation works required to inform the engineering and design of the offshore infrastructure for Arklow Bank Wind Park Phase 2. A statutory consultation phase will be run by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage from 22 April 2021 to 21 May 2021.