Mayo wind project given go-ahead

Mayo wind project given go-ahead

On Sunday evening it was announced that a new €31 million floating wind project has been given the go-ahead. The full scale floating wind turbine will be stationed off the county Mayo coast. It is hoped the project will fully operational by 2022.

The project will be a partnership between the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) and the engineering company Saipem and a number of other European companies.

Funding for the project has been secured from the EU. The project will work as a flagship to demonstrate the cost-effectiveness and reliability of offshore floating technology. It is hoped this and similar projects will hasten the use of such technology should it be a success.

Jim Gannon, Chief Executive of SEAI said: “SEAI is delighted to be part of the consortium and welcomes this initial step of gaining support from Interreg. We recognise that there are many significant steps to be taken to deliver this ambitious project and we will work with all project partners and local and national stakeholders to maximise local and national benefits. This project will show Ireland’s strengths, not only in terms of its significant wind resources but also as a responsive, innovative and agile country” as online through Industry Europe.

The west coast of Ireland is a perfect location for such a project due to the strong Atlantic winds. The area is home to a number of landed wind turbines but it is hoped this offshore project will allow for larger turbines to be used.

The project is to be known as AFLOWT (Accelerating Market uptake of Floating Offshore Wind Technology). It will be the first of its kind and it is hoped it will draw expert from across Europe.

This will be a small step in the Irish governments attempt to reduce its carbon footprint something which it has been criticised for it recent months facing fines and rebuttals from the EU.

Minister for Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton said “We are fortunate to have such a fantastic wind energy resource…However, we need to step up our ambition in this area and stretch ourselves farther. I welcome this project as an excellent opportunity to further explore the potential of offshore wind.”

EMEC and offshore projects

EMEC is a Scottish based company whose history lies with offshore tidal and wave power. Of the move to wind power, Oliver Wragg, Commercial Director at EMEC said: “Over the past 15 years EMEC has hosted more ocean energy technologies at its real sea test berths in the UK than any other facility in the world. We have developed a wealth of knowledge and expertise that can now be transferred to the testing and demonstration of floating offshore wind to help it make the most cost-effective and rapid transition to commercialisation.”

“If floating offshore wind technology can operate reliably and efficiently on the west coast of Ireland, it will work anywhere. Through this project, we hope that the successful technology demonstrations will fundamentally expand the global offshore wind market.”

It is hoped that a successful project may lead to a chain of such floating stations across the North Atlantic harnessing the huge potential wind sources in the region.

Three years of planning

Over the past three years, there has been a huge amount of behind the scenes work to ensure the project got the green light. Spokespeople for Mayo county council voiced their happiness and the conclusion of all this work.

Michael O’Boyle, head of marine development with Mayo County Council, added: “Mayo County Council have been facilitating the SEAI over the last three years in developing its offshore test site off the Belmullet coast. We see this as the first step in harnessing what is the now considered the greatest renewable energy resource anywhere in Europe if not the world.”

Cathaoirleach Councillor Blackie Gavin also welcomed the announcement: “This breakthrough is great news for County Mayo and a reward for all the hard work of our Enterprise and Investment

International contingent

“Saipem will be supported by partners providing research and development inputs including Cable Life Cycle Assurance in France; Maritime Research Institute the Netherlands; Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy Systems in Germany; the centre for renewable marine energy centre in UCC; and the ESB. EMEC will manage the project from the UK” reported the Irish Times.

The project shoudl require a huge amount of expertise and companies to implement the construction of th eplatfroma nd for its maintenance. It is expected that up to 60 full-time positions will be availble for operations and maintencne once complete.