A public consultation has been launched in relation to the environmental impact of a proposed floating offshore wind project off the south coast that would power more than a million Irish homes.
Simply Blue Group, a developer whose headquarters are in Cork, has begun a virtual public consultation for the Emerald Offshore Wind Project, which is a proposed floating offshore wind project 35km-60km south of the Old Head of Kinsale in Co Cork.
The project envisions the transformation of the maritime landscape in the area of the Kinsale gas platform into a zone for the production of clean, renewable offshore wind energy, in support of Ireland’s need to decarbonise the economy and ensure security of energy supply.
The use of floating technologies allows these turbines to be located 35-60km offshore, in waters much deeper than would be possible for alternative bottom-fixed offshore wind turbines. The project would have a total capacity of up to 1.3 gigawatts.
The project ran into trouble towards the end of last year as energy giant Shell pulled out despite previously striking a deal with Simply Blue Group that saw it take a 51 per cent stake.
The company did not provide a reason for its decision to pull out, but some stakeholders blamed delays in setting up a new State agency to approve offshore wind farms.
Simply Blue Group said at the weekend that the Environmental Impact Assessment scoping report in relation to the project has been published and invited stakeholders to engage with the virtual public consultation.
The report describes the key elements of the project, the baseline conditions and sensitivities of the environment likely to be affected by the project, and the studies and assessments proposed.
The scoping report provides an opportunity for stakeholder engagement, with feedback sought from the public to further inform the content and scope of the final report.
Work on the project began in 2020 and a programme has been undertaken to identify and assess the site and boundary selection for each element of the infrastructure including offshore site, cable routes, onshore landing locations and substation locations.
Val Cummins, project managing director, said: “We are committed to engaging with all our stakeholders and communities at each stage of the project and we would encourage stakeholders to participate in the consultation of the scoping report.
“We believe this is a very exciting project which delivers on Simply Blue Group’s commitment to creating new economic opportunities for coastal communities and developing projects that coexist with sustainable fisheries and marine conservation.”
The project is being developed in response to government’s commitment to deploy up to 7 gigawatts of offshore wind projects in Ireland by 2030.
The policy is designed to help Ireland meet targets set out in the Climate Action Plan to ensure 80 per cent of electricity generation from renewable sources.