Seas off Waterford and Wexford to be next sites for offshore wind farms under new maritime plan

The locations were revealed when the country’s first Designated Maritime Area Plan (DMAP) was announced.

Six offshore wind farms will be submitted for planning permission this summer, five off the east coast and one off the Galway coast at sites chosen by the developers.

However, all future wind energy projects will need to be located within the DMAPs selected by the Government.

Environment and Climate Action Minister Eamon Ryan said without the DMAP deal, offshore wind development would be “like the Klondike gold rush”.

The wind energy sector has been waiting for the announcement of the South Coast DMAP for two years.

Some nine companies have already started preliminary investigations in the area with a view to proposing future projects.

Now they have to see how closely the four designated sites announced today align with the areas they have been investigating.

However, around the same number of companies have been examining sites further west along the Cork coast and will now be unable to progress further into the next phase of projects.

The South Coast DMAP will now go to public consultation for a period of six weeks before being presented to the Oireachtas for approval.

The goal is to have it approved before the summer break in July.

If that deadline can be met, an “auction” for contracts to supply electricity through projects at the first of the DMAP sites will be held before the end of the year.

A decision on the auction winners by the middle of next year would allow developers to seriously advance their projects with the goal of building, operating and supplying electricity by the early 2030s.

Unveiling the DMAP, Minister Ryan said it was a key moment for the country’s renewable energy ambitions.

“This is a very important day for us as we formally shift to this plan-based approach where the state designates where we are going to develop rather than leaving it to a Klondike-like free-for-all system,” he said. . .

“That wouldn’t work environmentally, it wouldn’t work in terms of community support but it wouldn’t work economically either.”

However, he acknowledged there would be challenges in gaining planning permission and public support.

“There will be obstacles, there will be difficulties,” he said.