Huge proposal for 520 MW offshore wind plant moves forward

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Eirtricity has applied for a foreshore lease from the Irish government to build a 520 MW offshore wind farm on the Arklow Banks off the Wicklow coast to the east of Ireland at a cost of around IR£500 million. If the lease is granted, Eirtricity will build the project in four phases up to 2005. The first 60 MW will be built during the weather window of 2002 beginning early in the year and ending in the autumn. It is expected to create some 500 jobs. According to Eirtricity's Eddie O'Connor, the company has had interest from potential equity partners in the project. "We are confident that these relationships will be in place in the next few months," he says. "There will be massive learning from phase one to later phases. Costs of building will be reducing each year. To get over the disadvantage of the first phase it will be essential that the connection to the grid be grant aided." The capital cost of the first phase is £76 million, of which £20 million is for the grid connection, O'Connor says. He calls for support along Danish lines where the government has extended the transmission system out to the offshore substation platform of the Horns Rev project. "Support of this nature would be very welcome in the Irish context and would assist in overcoming the substantial additional costs associated with moving to the offshore environment," he says.

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