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Market Status: Ireland - Offshore consents need streamlining

IRELAND The commissioning of the 84MW Mount Lucas wind project in the county of Offaly was the highlight for wind energy in Ireland in 2014.

Owned by utility Bord na Mona, majority shareholder in Renewable Energy Ireland Ltd, and powered by 28 Siemens 3MW turbines, it is now Ireland's biggest wind farm.

Growth slowed a little during 2014, with only 235MW added to the grid, compared with 319MW in the previous year, but it looks as though it is picking up as the country slowly hauls itself out of its sovereign debt crisis following the banking collapse of 2008. Some more ambitious plans are now coming out of the pipeline, including Bord na Mona's proposed 370MW development in County Mayo, and Planree's 105MW project on the border of West Tyrone and Donegal in the north of the republic.

Offshore wind remains limited to the 25MW Arklow Bank project, commissioned back in June 2004. But in February 2014 the Irish government released a new offshore energy plan, setting targets for 2030 - a minimum of 800MW, a medium scenario of 2.3GW, and a high scenario of 4.5GW. The report emphasised the need for Ireland to streamline its consent structures and environmental impact assessments to speed up development and reduce costs.

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