A consortium created by DONG (50%), B9 Energy (25%) and RES Offshore (25%) has been awarded the right to develop a 600MW offshore wind farm off the southeast coast of Northern Ireland. Once built, it will be the region’s first offshore wind project.
The First Flight Wind consortium plans to submit a formal consent application in 2015 and will outline its public consultation programme on 24 October, with initial information meetings scheduled for the first half of November.
News of the development award by the Crown Estate came alongside approval for two tidal wave projects of 100MW each in Northern Irish waters. The offshore wind development zone lies off the coast of county Down
Commenting on the news, Northern Ireland energy minister, Arlene Foster, said: "Today's announcement by The Crown Estate represents a major milestone for Northern Ireland. I am greatly encouraged … that these key companies want to invest in our waters."
DONG’s newly-appointed UK country manager and chair of First Flight Wind, Benj Sykes, emphasised that the company's UK offshore wind programme has already prompted it to invest in Northern Ireland, with more presumably to come: "This is DONG Energy’s first wind project in Northern Ireland but we have already signed a lease to use Belfast Harbour for the construction of offshore wind. This has enabled the harbour to be transformed into a bespoke facility for offshore wind construction, able to handle the huge vessels and component parts. It’s currently nearing the end of construction and we will take over the lease at the beginning of 2013, using it for the offshore construction of our West of Duddon Sands project [in English waters]."
RES has a long track record of developing onshore wind in both the Republic of Ireland (RoI) and Northern Ireland. Its offshore wind project list includes several operational assets in English waters and it is co-developing France’s Saint Brieuc offshore wind farm with its partner, Iberdrola.
Commenting on the success of First Flight Wind’s Northern Irish bid, RES Offshore chief executive, Chris Morgan, said: "RES has been developing and building wind farms in Northern Ireland since 1994 and this project will provide us with the opportunity to grow our offshore wind activities alongside our established NI and ROI onshore wind business."