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 Celtic Sea has some of the best wind conditions in Europe for producing clean, renewable energy from offshore wind generation. While the metocean (the combined wind, wave and climate) conditions are more challenging than the East Coast from a construction and operation perspective, this area benefits from superior wind speeds. Studies of the sea bed using existing data sources indicate that the area off the coast of East Cork is potentially suitable for developing an offshore wind farm project. The Celtic One project is being developed as a deep water fixed foundation offshore wind farm for delivery by 2030 as it is expected that ongoing developments in design, manufacture, transport and installation of fixed foundations will allow developments in water depths up to 80m whilst maintaining competitive cost advantage against floating wind platforms in this time period. It is located at a distance of approximately 8km (at the nearest point) from the coastline to minimise visual impact. The second phase of the project (Celtic Two) is being developed as a floating foundation offshore wind farm given the prevailing water depths at this location. The site assessment study has also taken account of potential connection options to the national grid, including a potential connection into ESB’s Aghada power station in Cork.
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.