Climate change is one of the defining challenges of this generation. Its impact is evident in increasingly extreme weather patterns, rising sea levels, water shortages and disruption to biodiversity and ecosystems. Offshore wind generated electricity has a transformative role to play globally in mankind’s fight against this change and our transition to a zero-carbon economy by eliminating carbon and other harmful greenhouse gases emitted by the energy sector through the burning of fossil fuels and replacing that generation with clean renewable electricity.
On 14th February, we launched our ambitious new strategy – Driven to make a Difference: Net Zero by 2040 – with the aim of putting in place the infrastructure and services to enable our customers and broader society to live more sustainably. This builds on our 2017 Brighter Future strategy, which set a clear direction for ESB to take action and exercise leadership in tackling climate change.
Dipping our toe
One of the objectives of our Brighter Future strategy was to “Produce, connect and deliver clean, secure and affordable energy”, with the intent of incorporating significantly more renewable generation into our portfolio. Our first step into the world of offshore wind development came in March 2018 when we acquired a 12.5% share of the 353MW Galloper Offshore Wind Farm, located off the coast of Suffolk.
We are now involved as partner in three other offshore wind development projects in UK waters, as well as seven others around the coast of Ireland, two in partnership with Parkwind – Clogherhead and Oriel – and five others that are sole ESB projects.
The ESB projects are illustrated on the map and consist of the following:
|Dublin and Wicklow coast
|Cork and Waterford coast
|Clare and Kerry coast
|Clare and Kerry coast
Further information on each site is available at the five project webpages:
Investigative Foreshore Licence Applications for the ESB projects were submitted in late 2020 and early 2021 to facilitate the commencement of site investigation works in the form of geophysical, geotechnical, metocean and other environmental surveys. To date, two of these have been advertised for public consultation. The Sea Stacks consultation closed at the end of January this year, and the Helvick Head consultation is currently open – please see https://www.gov.ie/en/foreshore-notice/338fa-esb-wind-development-limited-site-investigations-off-waterford-and-cork-coasts-helvick-head-offshore-wind/. Submissions on this can be made up to close of business on 15th March 2022 by writing to the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Foreshore Section, Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Newtown Road, Wexford, Co. Wexford or by sending an email to foreshoreORE@housing.gov.ie. It is anticipated that the consultations for the other three projects will take place over the coming months – please keep an eye on the project webpages for updates.
Open and engaged approach to development
ESB appreciates that our proposed offshore wind sites have the potential to impact some fishing activities both during the development, planning and construction stages as well as during the operational and subsequent decommissioning phases of our projects. We are currently trying to identify what those impacts might be so that we can take all steps possible to minimise and mitigate against them, both within the wind turbine array area and also along the electricity export cable corridor(s).
During site investigation surveys, wind farm construction works and cable laying it is envisaged that some restrictions will be required to facilitate safe operation of the associated vessels and construction/installation teams. ESB will agree an approach for these activities with the relevant fishers and other marine users associated with any of our proposed projects in advance of any such works. ESB will never carry out works that may impact the fishing community without first engaging appropriately.
During operation of any of our wind farms, persistence of largely normal, unhindered fishing activity is the aim for ESB, but we appreciate this will be dependent on a number of factors, e.g. turbine array spacing, location of grid cables, whether or not the turbines are bottom-fixed or floating, etc. Gaining a proper understanding from fishers of how our project sites have been and are being used – both in terms of location and type of activity – is, therefore, a key input into the site design process. In that regard we would very strongly encourage all interested parties to make contact with ESB so that we can both try to attain a better understanding of how we can pursue our interests mutually.
Fisheries engagement to date
Correspondence was issued to the Fish Producer Organisations and the Regional Forums in advance of our Foreshore Licence applications being submitted, and updates have also been provided to the POs and Forums regarding the Foreshore Licence public consultations. We presented on our projects to representatives of the KFO, IFPO and ISEFPO in November last year, and hope to present to ISWFPO, NIFA and NIFO over the coming weeks. We have commenced port visits relative to our Sea Stacks, Helvick Head and Celtic projects, and these will continue over the weeks and months ahead for these and our other two projects. In addition, we plan to launch virtual consultation rooms for each of our five projects over the months ahead. These will be open for a 6-week period, with the aim of providing the general public with specific details on our plans and to give everyone an opportunity to input into our projects. We plan to host a webinar on each project close to the end of the 6-week consultation period. Again, please keep an eye on the webpages for updates.
ESB’s Stakeholder Manager on the five projects is Brian Hegarty. Brian can be contacted by emailing email@example.com or by calling +447980567980.
ESB will have a stand at the Irish Skipper Expo in Limerick at the end of March, and we look forward to meeting with you there. We will be located at stand 130.