An offshore wind and natural gas co-generation project in the east Irish Sea has advanced to the engineering design and consultation stage. The Ormonde project, ten kilometres west of Walney Island, Cumbria, is being developed by Eclipse Energy. The company has a gas licence for two undeveloped natural gas fields and a site licence from the Crown Estate on similar terms to the UK's first round of offshore wind farms. The 200 MW Ormonde project will comprise 30 turbines totalling 120 MW and an open cycle gas turbine plant. The steady gas fired generation capacity will complement the variable wind power element, enabling a predictable power output from the project. Eclipse has signed a joint development agreement with GE Energy and will utilise GE Wind's 4 MW turbines, currently under development. "By the time our project is in the build stage, that size of turbine will be tried and tested," says Peter Sills from Eclipse. Development will be carried out by Ormonde Energy Limited, jointly owned by Eclipse and GE. Eclipse Energy's previous partner in the project, Rolls Royce, withdrew to concentrate on its core business. Sills expects the consultations to lead to a consent application later this year. Ormonde will be the world's first hybrid offshore gas and wind project. Eclipse secured seed funding earlier this year through a private share offering. Unlike UK "round one" offshore wind projects, Eclipse will not be seeking a government capital grant. The integration of gas makes the wind project viable on its own merits, says Sills. Despite the project being "outside the normal box" for financing, he claims the signs are encouraging from potential investors. "Several organisations have indicated their interest."
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Senior Renewable Energy Analyst (WindGEMINI Product Lead) DNV GL Bristol (City Centre), City of Bristol