t was back on May 7th that Greystonian Colm Drew sent us his exhaustive study of the proposed wind farms off our coast.
And why he reckoned they really weren’t a good idea.
For balance, we immediately set about finding someone with the opposite take, getting in touch with some of the town’s most noted eco warriors. And not one of the free-range, organic, hemp-chewing hippies was able to get their act together. Probably due to the lack of meat in their diet.
So, in the end, we managed to get someone who may have a vested interest – working for Wind Energy Ireland – but, at least we know that Justin Moran knows what he’s talking about.
So, as the wet groundwork is being conducted off Greystones’ shore for the Codling Wind Farm, and others planned along the Wicklow and Dublin coasts, here are two distinct sides to the argument. We couldn’t publish all the images here full-size – as they would, eh, bleed outside the borders of your phone – so, you’ll find the originalshere.
First up at the podium, Colm Drew…
There are two separate offshore wind farms planned for the sea off the Dublin and Wicklow coasts. The nearest one to Greystones is the Dublin Array that will use the Kish Bank and the Bray Bank, while the Codling Wind Park will be based on the Codling Bank just south of Greystones. There is plenty of information available online for the projects, which are about to go for planning permission, but it can be difficult for people to get a feel for what they will look like when they are built. Some people ask how the new wind turbines will compare to the 7 turbines visible in the sea off Brittas, or to the Kish lighthouse that is visible to the North East from Greystones?
This is a large project by any standard, and will need wind turbines of quite staggering dimensions. They will be located quite close to shore compared to other similar schemes planned in the EU.
The Kish light is 29 m high and 20 kms distance out to sea from Greystones.
Arklow Bank wind farm off Brittas Bay has 7 turbines with a tip height of 73.5 metres, with a total
capacity of 25 MWs, 10kms out to sea.
Codling Bank will have up to 140 turbines with a tip height of up to 320 metres, with a total capacity
of 900 to 1500 MWs, 10.5 kms out to sea off Greystones.
Dublin Array will have 45 to 61 turbines with a tip height of 240 to 310 metres, with a total capacity
of 600 to 900 MWs, 10 kms out to sea off Greystones.
Liberty Hall in Dublin is 59 m high.
The Spire on Dublin’s O’Connell St is 120 m high.
Poolbeg’s chimneys are 207 m high.
The Dublin Array will cover the Kish Bank and the Bray Bank, from Dublin to Greystones. The Bray
Bank is within 10kms of the Marina. The Kish lighthouse is at the furthest point of the Kish Bank from Greystones.
The Codling Bank wind farm is 14.8km (8 nautical miles) from Greystones and Kilcoole.
Tip height of the new wind turbines will be up to 320m.
The Kish Light is 29m high while the tower is 31m. The planned wind turbines reach a tip height of up to 320m, over 10 times higher than the Kish light. The lighthouse is 20 kms from Greystones, while the wind farm will start 10 kms offshore. So, the wind turbines will be 10 times the height of the Kish light and half the distance away from Greystones.
For reference, the lift boat (LB Jill) is about 20kms off Greystones at the moment, at around the furthest point of the new wind farm from Greystones . It’s legs are 102m long. The ship is twice as far from Greystones as some of the wind turbines will be, some of which will have a tip height of up to 320m, which is over 3 times longer than the LB Jill’s legs.
Distances: The LB Jill ship is 10.5 nautical miles (20kms) from Greystones Marina now (1pm 3 May 2021), about the same distance as the Kish lighthouse (20kms).
Similar planned projects in Europe Most large projects planned in the rest of the EU extend to beyond 60km from the shore.
Who will own the wind farms? Dublin Array Wind Farm is 50% owned by RWE and 50% by Saorgus Energy. RWE AG is a German multinational energy company headquartered in Essen. Saorgus Energy initiated the development of Dublin Array, has developed over 300MW of onshore wind energy projects in Ireland and owns and operates three onshore wind farms. Codling Wind Park Ltd. (CWPL) is a 50/50 joint venture between Fred. Olsen Renewables and EDF Renewables. Fred. Olsen Renewables is a Swedish company that is wholly owned by the listed (Oslo Stock Exchange) company Bonheur ASA. EDF Renewables is a wholly owned subsidiary of the French utility EDF Group.
Employment: The Codling bank wind farm intends to have a project office along the east coast, between Dublin and Wicklow. During the construction phase of the project, more than 1,000 jobs will be created, the majority of these through contractors.
Justin Moran: Seizing Ireland’s Clean Energy Opportunity
The global climate crisis and the urgent need to decarbonise Ireland’s energy supply by 2050 is the single greatest challenge we face, writes Wind Energy Ireland’s Justin Moran.
To decarbonise we must develop offshore wind energy in large volumes and as quickly as possible. The Programme for Government has set a target of 5,000 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind energy by 2030, which is around 7-10 wind farms depending on their size, and this would reduce our carbon emissions over the next decade more than any other solution we have available.
Delivering offshore wind will drastically cut our CO2 emissions. It will make Ireland more energy independent. It will attract several billion euro in investment into Ireland and create thousands of long-term and sustainable jobs, particularly in coastal counties like Wicklow and Dublin.
Many projects are already engaging with local communities along Ireland’s east and south coasts and the response so far has generally been positive. Local people see the enormous economic benefit from offshore wind, they know that we must tackle climate change and they want to play their part.
Our members, who are developing projects right around the island of Ireland, are also working with communities to listen to their concerns and to respond. One common question is why wind farms proposed off Ireland’s east coast are not put further out from the coast.
Seabed Depth The answer is, simply, seabed depth. As you move out from shore Ireland’s seabed depth increases very quickly, compared to the North Sea, for example, which is relatively shallow and gently sloping.
Identifying the right location for an offshore wind farm requires a careful balance between numerous technical, environmental and economic factors. But one of the most critical factors is the seabed depth at any potential location.
Most of Ireland’s proposed offshore wind farms will use a technology called ‘fixed-bottom wind turbines’. Put simply, the wind turbine is installed on top of a foundation which is connected to the seabed. This proven technology has been used to develop 25,000 MW of offshore wind energy in Europe alone and is used all over the world. Individual offshore turbines are now available that provide 15 MW of power – enough over a year to power 13,000 homes – and the price of offshore wind energy has fallen 29 per cent since 2010.
The key challenge with fixed-bottom turbines is that they can typically only be deployed in water depths of 50-60 metres or less and where the seabed conditions are suitable to secure the foundations.
This is why, for example, there is only one fixed-bottom offshore project planned for the west coast of Ireland despite the excellent wind conditions. There simply is not enough seabed available at 50-60 metres or less, as shown in the map below. Building this close to shore is normal across Europe. As of the end of 2020, there were 7,800 MW of offshore wind capacity installed in Europe from 65 offshore wind farms located closer than 22 km – 12 nautical miles – from the coastline. Another 16,000 MW of projects within that distance either have planning permission or have applied for it.
As you can see from the graph here fixed-bottom offshore wind farms can be located some considerable distance from shore but only in places where the water depth is under 50 metres, and often under 40 metres.
Floating Wind Energy A handful of small floating wind farms have been developed in deeper waters and we are working to deploy that technology off the south and west coast in the years to come.
A floating offshore wind turbine is not fixed to the seabed like a fixed-bottom wind turbine. Instead, the wind turbine is mounted on a floating platform which is then secured to the seabed by mooring cables and anchors. One of the big advantages of floating wind turbine technology is that it can be deployed in much greater depths. Many of our members are already at work developing floating wind energy projects off Ireland’s coast.
But this is a relatively new technology. To date, there have been very few floating offshore wind projects delivered anywhere in the world – approximately 90 MW in total – and these are much smaller than fixed-bottom offshore wind projects. They are also significantly more expensive though we expect prices to fall over the next ten years.
The reality is that to achieve our 2030 offshore wind energy targets and decarbonise Ireland’s electricity supply we are going to rely mainly on fixed-bottom projects like those proposed for Wicklow’s coast.
Ireland’s Opportunity Ireland is on the brink of finally unlocking our vast offshore wind resource which will lead the decarbonisation of our energy system. There are big challenges ahead – we do not underestimate them – and we need to work with local communities to ensure they are fully involved.
But the opportunity is here to develop the single most significant energy resource available to the Irish people, to attract billions in investment, create thousands of jobs and see millions invested in community benefit funds for people living along the coast. And while doing this, building an entirely new Irish energy industry, we will be decarbonising our energy system, cutting millions of tonnes of CO2 every year using the single most effective renewable technology we possess.
This is what a just transition looks like. The development of clean energy in a way that creates jobs and returns significant benefits to local communities.
Together with onshore wind and other renewables, like solar power and green hydrogen, offshore wind can make Ireland truly energy independent in our lifetimes. That is the opportunity available to us and we look forward to working with communities in Wicklow to make it a reality.
You can find the above illustrations in the original sizes right here, and check out Coastal Concern Alliance here, and local opinions on wind farms in this Facebook group.
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