Offshore wind energy in Northern Ireland

There is general consensus that harnessing greater quantities of renewable energy is now an imperative for Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland’s position on the western periphery of Europe with few fossil fuel resources creates a near 100% dependence on imports to meet its energy needs. This dependency creates uncertainty in terms of security of supply and exposes Northern Ireland to the volatility of world energy prices. Similarly, the high proportion of fossil based fuels in Northern Ireland’s energy mix creates a significant carbon footprint which contributes to the problems of climate change.

Whilst onshore wind energy in Northern Ireland is the most immediate cost-effective means of generating indigenous renewable energy, there is significant potential for other sources of low-carbon secure supplies of energy. Based on the results from the cumulative assessment conducted as part of the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of Offshore Wind and Marine Renewable Energy for Northern Ireland, it was concluded that between 900MW and 1200MW of electricity could be generated from offshore wind and from tidal stream arrays in Northern Ireland waters without significant adverse effects on the environment. The main potential resource areas are shown in the SEA resource zone map (below).

 

(Click to view a larger version of the map)


A draft Offshore Renewable Energy Strategic Action Plan 2009-2020, published by DETI, aims to “to optimise the amount of renewable electricity generated from offshore wind and marine renewable resources in Northern Ireland’s waters in order to enhance diversity and security of supply, reduce carbon emissions, contribute to the proposed renewable electricity targets by 2020 and beyond and develop business and employment opportunities for NI companies”. Specifically the draft action plan has proposed a target “to develop at least 600 MW of offshore wind and 300 MW from tidal resources in Northern Ireland waters by 2020”.
 

Offshore wind energy in Northern Ireland

There is general consensus that harnessing greater quantities of renewable energy is now an imperative for Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland’s position on the western periphery of Europe with few fossil fuel resources creates a near 100% dependence on imports to meet its energy needs. This dependency creates uncertainty in terms of security of supply and exposes Northern Ireland to the volatility of world energy prices. Similarly, the high proportion of fossil based fuels in Northern Ireland’s energy mix creates a significant carbon footprint which contributes to the problems of climate change.

Whilst onshore wind energy in Northern Ireland is the most immediate cost-effective means of generating indigenous renewable energy, there is significant potential for other sources of low-carbon secure supplies of energy. Based on the results from the cumulative assessment conducted as part of the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of Offshore Wind and Marine Renewable Energy for Northern Ireland, it was concluded that between 900MW and 1200MW of electricity could be generated from offshore wind and from tidal stream arrays in Northern Ireland waters without significant adverse effects on the environment. The main potential resource areas are shown in the SEA resource zone map (below).

 

(Click to view a larger version of the map)


A draft Offshore Renewable Energy Strategic Action Plan 2009-2020, published by DETI, aims to “to optimise the amount of renewable electricity generated from offshore wind and marine renewable resources in Northern Ireland’s waters in order to enhance diversity and security of supply, reduce carbon emissions, contribute to the proposed renewable electricity targets by 2020 and beyond and develop business and employment opportunities for NI companies”. Specifically the draft action plan has proposed a target “to develop at least 600 MW of offshore wind and 300 MW from tidal resources in Northern Ireland waters by 2020”.
 

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