North Channel Wind project director Niamh Kenny is to address business officials at Invest Northern Ireland’s Focus on Offshore Wind - Emerging Opportunities conference in Belfast tomorrow (Tuesday).
The event, in Titanic Conference Centre, will highlight Northern Ireland’s geographical, infrastructural and supply chain advantages for offshore wind energy development.
Companies throughout the province have already gained much experience exporting goods and services to the offshore energy sector in the UK, Ireland and further afield.
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Niamh Kenny says she is confident that the potential for Northern Ireland to fast become one of the lowest cost regions for offshore wind in Europe is very close. Ms Kenny will also outline the increased pressures on energy supply and distribution and underline the urgency of generating Northern Ireland’s own electricity.
“We see rapidly changing circumstances across the global energy markets, increased pressure on supply and distribution and little if any reduction in demand,” she said.
“Now is the time for offshore wind energy to develop so that Northern Ireland and the Irish single energy market can gain advantage, move closer towards self-sustainability and to even become a net exporter of electricity.
“I’m looking forward to addressing the conference and very grateful to Invest Northern Ireland for the opportunity and for highlighting the urgent need to move these proposals forward quickly.”
North Channel Wind’s new floating technologies are particularly well suited to the Irish Sea for their significantly reduced environmental impact during installation and operation when compared to conventional turbines whose foundations are on the seabed.
Ms Kenny continued: “Discussions with the Northern Ireland government, the grid operator SONI, the energy regulator UREGNI, Renewables NI and the Crown Estate are progressing well.
“Significantly, we have completed our site characterisation and have commenced a scoping exercise in consultation with DAERA, which is the first step in applying for a marine licence to build offshore infrastructure.”
North Channel Wind proposals are for the installation of floating wind turbines, across two sites off the east coast of Antrim and north Down.
The combined generation would reach 400MW (or more depending on lease agreements with The Crown Estate), enough to power up to 470,000 households in Northern Ireland.
Representatives from North Channel Wind will be meeting with key stakeholders including the fishing community, local interest groups and marine users over the coming months to gauge reactions, optimise the project and to build partnerships which they believe will benefit the wider Northern Ireland community for many years to come.
The project would create significant local supply chain opportunities including the assembly of the required steel floating devices, logistics, assembly, marine services and construction.
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