The Isle of Man is to seek expressions of interest in developing large scale offshore wind capacity, Ken Milne, senior manager for energy policy with the island's government, told Windpower Offshore. "We expect a lot of interest in the development of probably two or three large projects," he said.
Interest will be sought towards the end of this year, with a view to projects coming on stream by 2020. "We hope to have up to 2-3GW of offshore wind capacity installed by then, but the timeframe is flexible". Interim development of around 60MW of capacity is envisaged by 2015.
The Isle of Man government has already received informal approaches from those keen to tap the island's offshore wind resource. The island's territorial waters take in almost 4,000km², with depths of 10-40m. "We can capitalise on the shallow waters," explains Milne. "Indeed, the waters off the east coast of the island are similar to those identified in the UK's round 1 and 2 developments".
Consultation on a marine environmental impact assessment is scheduled for next month, with a view to identifying suitable sites for development. Consultation on a consenting process should follow in August. After this, a number of hurdles would need to be overcome before any offshore development could proceed, not least the introduction of a renewables incentive package. "This is the biggest hurdle" acknowledges Milne.
The Isle of Man's size may make it ideal as a trial site and its Irish Sea location could allow for power exports to the UK via an existing subsea cable.
The Isle of Man also offers investors a business-friendly tax structure and a skilled workforce, says Milne. It has an established precision manufacturing sector and its long-standing maritime expertise can be adapted to serve the offshore wind sector.
As well as developing its own offshore wind capacity, the Isle of Man is looking to become an operations and maintenance base, serving wind farms in the wider Irish Sea and those to be built off Scotland's west coast. The development of port infrastructure would be required and a site near Douglas has already been identified. Other port sites are also under consideration.