Element Power to revive North Irish Sea Array

IRELAND: Element Power has entered the offshore wind market by acquiring the up-to 750MW North Irish Sea Array (NISA) from previous developer Gaelectric.

The NISA project could help meet “the large electrical demands of Dublin”, Element CEO Mike O’Neill said

Development work has been ongoing at the site ten kilometres off the east coast of Ireland for several years and has included detailed environmental and technical constraint analysis, Element stated.

Former owner Gaelectic had agreed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to develop NISA with Oriel — the developer behind the proposed 330MW Oriel site in the Irish Sea — as well as a 15MW demonstration project.

But NISA has not yet received planning consent.

The new developer did not confirm when the up-to 750MW wind farm would be online, but did state that it was aiming to develop the project to help Ireland meet its as-yet undefined 2030 renewable energy targets.

The operational date depends on the government "putting the legislative structure in place for our project to be able to proceed to the consenting stage", Element added.

Mike O’Neill, Element’s CEO, said: "Ireland has an outstanding offshore wind energy resource that will play a key role in helping the country shift to a low-carbon economy and increase its energy security, delivering benefits for Irish consumers and industry.

"The site, in the relatively shallow waters of the east coast and near the large electrical demands of Dublin and the fast-growing data centre industry, is ideally located to be in the first wave of large-scale offshore projects to be built in Ireland."

Element Power has previously completed over 1GW of onshore wind and 2.3GW of solar projects. It is also developing the 500MW Greenlink Interconnector between the UK and Ireland, as well as the 600MW Maali Interconnector between the UK and Norway.

O’Neil added: "Our experience and expertise in large-scale onshore wind and grid transmission solutions together with subsea HVDC (high-voltage direct-current) projects will complement our offshore development plans and we look forward to taking the NISA project forward."

Currently, Ireland has just the one online offshore project, SSE’s 25.2MW Arklow Bank wind farm, which was commissioned in 2004.

However, it has several offshore wind farms in the pipeline, including the 600MW Dublin Array, which Innogy acquired a 50% stake in last month.