Frequently Asked Questions
Dublin Array Wind Farm is 50% owned by RWE, one of the world’s largest developers of renewable energy, and 50% by Irish company Saorgus Energy.
Ireland has exceptional offshore wind resources. However, to tap into this resource there are three key elements needed:
2. Technical Know How
Ireland is developing a planning regime which will finally allow the country to catch up with countries across the world in developing their indigenous energy resources.
Offshore engineering is a niche area and one which Ireland does not have significant expertise in, despite our island status. All of the early stage offshore wind projects are likely to involve international developers who have experience in developing major projects offshore. As one of the world’s largest developers of renewable energy, RWE has the expertise needed to deliver the Dublin Array Offshore Wind Farm, in conjunction with our Irish development partners Saorgus Energy.
Finally, finance is a key consideration. RWE will invest in excess of €1 billion in developing this project. That is an investment in achieving Ireland’s renewable energy targets, one which increases the level of funding which is available for energy development in Ireland.
RWE Renewables, the newest subsidiary of the RWE Group, is one of the world’s leading renewable energy companies. With around 3,500 employees, the company has onshore and offshore wind farms, photovoltaic plants and battery storage facilities with a combined capacity of approximately 9 gigawatts. RWE Renewables is driving the expansion of renewable energy in more than 15 countries on four continents. For further growth a net investment budget of €5 billion is available until 2022. When adding in possible partnerships, the medium term investment budget could reach up to €9 billion. The focus is on the Americas, the core markets in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.
Saorgus Energy initiated the development of Dublin Array and has also developed over 300MW of onshore wind energy projects in Ireland. It also owns and operates three onshore wind farms.
The project is in the development phase. RWE is leading on the development of the project on behalf of the partnership. We are expecting to submit the application for planning consent in early 2023.
Subject to achieving a number of consenting milestones, the start of construction is expected in 2025, with a potential two-year construction period.
There is a comprehensive stakeholder and community engagement programme available on this website. We will be updating this project website regularly in order that everyone can view key facts, news and development details.
Following our submission of our updated development consent application, you will also be entitled to take part in the statutory process by submitting comments on the project directly to the relevant consenting authority.
Dublin Array is a proposed offshore wind farm on the Kish and Bray Banks, approximately 10km from the coastline of Counties Dublin and Wicklow.
Based on preliminary results from environmental and technical studies that we have undertaken, the offshore element of the wind farm is expected to consist of between 45 and 61 turbines.
Based on preliminary results from environmental and technical studies that we have undertaken, the offshore turbines are expected to have individual tip heights of between approximately 240 metres and 310 metres.
Depending on the final turbine selection each turbine will have a generating capacity between 8MW and 15MW, which means that the electricity generated by the wind farm will be between 600MW – 900MW. The figure will be dependent upon the size and number of turbines that we install. We are continuing to undertake technical and environmental studies and consultation activities to bring forward a project which is aligned with government policy and renewable energy targets.
RWE is investigating the availability of suitable ports both for construction and for operations during the life of the wind farm.
A number of landfall sites that are suitable for the power export cables to connect into the grid onshore are under consideration. It is possible that more than one landfall site will be required.
- The wind farm needs to connect into the EirGrid transmission system therefore studies are being carried out in consultation with EirGrid to establish the likely connection point or points.
- It is likely that the connection point will be at an existing EirGrid transmission substation, potentially Carrickmines and/or Poolbeg, and that either new substation or additional electrical infrastructure will be required at, or close to the connection point.
- The onshore works will comprise the installation of buried cables between landfall and the connection point. No overhead lines are proposed and all the works are required to be designed and built to EirGrid specifications.
- The onshore electrical system will require planning permission and will be treated as an integral part of the project. Updated information about the onshore works will be available through the project stakeholder engagement programme and publicised on the Dublin Array website.
- The onshore electrical system needs to be in place before the first generation of the offshore wind farm. This means that construction activity onshore will start early in the programme, with a typical time period being around two years.
Distance from shore
No that is not an accurate reflection of what is happening across Europe. As of the end of 2020, there was 7.8 GW of offshore wind capacity installed in Europe from 65 offshore wind farms located closer than 22 km from the coastline. Another 16 GW of projects within that distance either have planning permission or have applied for it. There are some countries that have put in place distance-to-shore restrictions including Belgium and the Netherlands, but it is important to understand that their water depths are much shallower. No country in Europe, or anywhere in the world, has proposed effectively blocking fixed-bottom offshore wind farms, which is what a 22km ban would mean in Ireland due to our deeper waters. Britain, which is currently the largest offshore wind energy market in the world, has no distance-to-shore restriction on offshore wind farm development. Denmark, the world’s leader in wind energy development, likewise has no such restriction.
In Germany, individual states have authority over offshore wind energy planning up to the 12 nautical miles (22 km) limit. Of the three German coastal states only one, Schleswig-Holstein, has a restriction and this is currently under review. Neither of the other two states has a 22 km limit. The state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, for example, has a 103 turbine offshore wind farm within 22 km of the coast which received planning permission in 2019 and two more wind farms are expected to go online in 2023 and 2025.
Many factors are taken into consideration when identifying areas suitable for potential offshore wind farm development. These include the availability of a good wind resource, proximity to significant electricity demand centres (such as large population centres), favourable water depths and seabed conditions. In addition to this, sites are selected to avoid areas leased by the State for other purposes, busy commercial shipping routes, and to avoid or minimise any impact on environmental and archaeological features.
The proximity of the wind farm to a major electricity demand hub means that there is a reduction in the length of the offshore subsea electricity transmission cables to bring the power to land, thereby reducing the environmental impact and costs of construction. Shorter subsea electricity transmission cables maximise the efficiency in bringing the electricity to shore. Operational costs are also reduced due to ease of access for maintenance and reduced transmission losses. Cost reductions in the delivery of projects like this ultimately reduce the cost of energy to the consumer.
It is widely acknowledged and hoped that floating wind projects will have an important role to play in our long-term energy future. RWE, the lead developer of Dublin Array and a global leader in renewable energy, have already developed three floating project test sites and are investing heavily in floating technology for the future. However, like tidal and wave energy, they are some way off being commercially deployable at large scale. For example, the world’s current largest floating wind farm which became operational in October 2021, Kincardine, has a capacity of 50MW of renewable energy. Dublin Array will produce between 12 to 18 times this amount, depending on the final project design. Ireland cannot depend on floating technology to deliver our 2030 targets.
The new planning approach as set out in the Maritime Area Planning Act, 2021 introduces opportunities for communities and stakeholders to engage in the process. It has a greater and more certain level of consultation than under the Foreshore Acts, 1933 to 2014. It also offers a clear and defined process, something which was missing under the previous legislation. Dublin Array will need to submit a planning application (known as a development consent application) to the consenting authority, An Bord Pleanála. An Bord Pleanála are the consenting authority for all strategic infrastructure in Ireland and therefore have in place the processes and procedures to provide a robust evaluation of the development consent application.
The new Maritime Area Planning Bill, 2021, has been the subject of extensive work across various Government Departments led by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage over a number of years. For it to be enacted it will be subject to Dáil debate, Oireachtas Committee scrutiny and Seanad and Presidential approval. The legislation includes an obligation that any planning applications are subject to proper consideration of environmental issues. Offshore wind project planning applications are required to be accompanied by an Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR) which will be made available for public, stakeholder and statutory body assessment. Submissions from all persons will be assessed by An Bord Pleanála.
The project has been in development since 1999 and has had a number of foreshore licences in that time. The most recent was applied for in October 2021 and allows us to undertake further surveys of the seabed and to install buoy mounted equipment to provide data on weather and sea conditions.
We anticipate the creation of hundreds of jobs during the construction phase of the project. In addition, we expect to create up to 100 permanent local jobs during the operational phase of the wind farm. To check whether there are any current job opportunities please visit our jobs page here >>
The Dublin Array team is committed to maximising the benefit for the local economy. We already work with a wide range of Irish consultants and businesses and are committed to encouraging greater participation in the project by local suppliers. This will not only open opportunities with us, but will open up the significant opportunity in the developing Irish offshore wind industry. Any interested suppliers can submit their details on our dedicated Supplier Page here >>
RWE has a long history of supporting the communities in which it operates. As the Dublin Array project progresses we will work with communities to develop our approach to supporting the local area, in line with the requirements of the Governments Offshore Renewable Energy Support Scheme (ORESS), when these are finalised. We expect that, as per RESS 1, this will encourage a focus on funding that supports education, energy efficiency, sustainable energy, and climate action initiatives. The fund will be a multimillion euro annual fund, most likely over a 15 year period. RWE is committed to supporting the Irish Government in their efforts to maximise the return to local communities from offshore wind.
According to the consultation paper on the draft Offshore Renewable Energy Support Scheme (ORESS) published in October 2021 by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (full details here >>) , to identify how the fund shall be distributed “an objective scoring system could be applied, taking account of proximity or impact of a given offshore project to a given community. Using a common scoring system for all fund applications, all communities, and all members of communities could expect an impartial and nationally consistent consideration of funding applications”.
At Dublin Array, we are very keen to ensure that any community scheme’s funds should be distributed in a targeted manner and should benefit those communities and groups who interact most directly with the windfarm. RWE have extensive experience delivering community benefit funds and know how important it is for the local community to be involved in decision making on the allocation of funds. For more information on our experience and examples of our existing funds click here >>
Yes. The project has a fisheries liaison officer who continues to engage with the fishing community and is available to respond to any queries they have in relation to the project. During 2021, we completed an extensive marine survey campaign which was undertaken with the cooperation of the local fishing community.
We will continue to engage with the fishing community throughout the design, planning, construction and operational phases of the project.
We are carrying out extensive ecological surveys at the site including, for example, of birds and marine mammals. More information on the types of surveys we have been undertaken can be found here >>. This is helping us to develop a detailed understanding of the ecological sensitivities in the area. We will then use this information and lots of other environmental and technical information to guide the design of the wind farm. We will include this information in our Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR) which will be submitted with our development consent application.