Simply Blue floats new Emerald plan

In: Windfarms
04/11/2020


Simply Blue Energy has confirmed to 4C Offshore that it has revised its plan for the 1 GW Emerald floating wind complex, off the south east coast of Cork. The project’s overall capacity, and its timeline, have not changed.

The project was announced earlier this year, as Simply Blue Energy submitted a foreshore investigation license application to the Irish Department of Housing, Local Government, and Heritage. At that time, the developers announced that it would be in three phases: a 100 MW demonstrator pilot, a 300 MW pre-commercial phase, and a 600 MW commercial phase.

However, the plan has changed. Now, Simply Blue Energy is pursuing a two-phase project, consisting of a 300 MW pre-commercial phase and a 700 MW commercial phase. It aims to get the first 300 MW up and running ‘this side of 2030’.

The move comes in the context of broadening discussions around floating wind. Across the world, developers are starting to take floating wind – which can be installed in deeper waters, further out to sea than conventional fixed projects – seriously. Ireland is unlikely to adopt the technology in the next few years, as the early consenting programme is likely to favour its ‘relevant projects’: fixed-bottom wind farms that received consent under a previous regime. However, Simply Blue Energy sees floating wind taking off in the 2030s, which is in line with 4C Offshore's estimates.

As the technology floats ahead in about ten years’ time, a pre-commercial phase already in the water will likely be a greater advantage than a demonstrator.

The Emerald project is still in the early development stages, and will need to carry out surveys before making consent and grid connection applications under Ireland’s RESS scheme. It will be situated 35-60 km from the coast and it is estimated that it will produce enough power for the equivalent of 800,000 homes.

In Ireland, offshore wind ambition is heating up. With several new proposed projects announced in the last year, the country has increased its target from 3.5 GW to 5 GW by 2030. However, there is currently only one installed project – the 25 MW Arklow Bank. The government also has long-term ambitions to see up to 30 GW of floating wind installed.

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