Energy News


North Channel Wind project director Niamh Kenny has welcomed Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s call for a “colossal” floating wind farm in the Irish Sea.

The PM is due to set out long-term plans to add capacity to the domestic energy supply in the UK government’s new energy strategy later this week. He was reported in the Sunday Times to have said at a meeting last week that he wanted “a colossal wind farm you can float out into the middle of the Irish Sea.”

It is expected that the strategy will focus on offshore wind and nuclear power over the next ten years. The offshore wind capacity could be raised fourfold from its current 11 gigawatts to 50 gigawatts by 2030.

“There is a real sense of urgency now that we must move more quickly to install and operate the floating turbines in the North Channel,” says Niamh Kenny.

“We are pressing for a project on two sites off the coasts of East Antrim and North Down which could collectively generate 400 megawatts within the current assumed parameters, but which could be increased to 1 gigawatt,” says Ms. Kenny.

North Channel Wind has received encouragement from Northern Ireland’s Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs which has jurisdiction over marine licensing required to install turbines and cabling to shore.

The project is backed by Netherlands-based marine engineering and offshore energy specialist SBM Offshore. Ms. Kenny says if it were to go ahead, the development could be a game-changer for Northern Ireland.

“The two proposed sites in the North Channel halfway between Northern Ireland and Scotland would generate a combined 400MW, representing 13% of Northern Ireland’s energy needs and could be sited in areas between 12km and 27km from the coasts of counties Antrim and Down. The power from these would be cabled to shore connecting to the grid at a location currently under consideration,” she says.

North Channel Wind’s new floating technologies are significantly reduced environmental impact during installation and operation when compared to conventional turbines whose foundations are on the seabed.

Ms Kenny said: “We are in discussions with the Northern Ireland government, the grid operator SONI, the energy regulator UREGNI, Renewables NI, and the Crown Estate. 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 license to build offshore infrastructure.”

Representatives from North Channel Wind have embarked on a series of meetings with key stakeholders including the fishing community, local interest groups, and other marine users.

The project would create significant local supply chain opportunities including the assembly of the required steel floating devices, logistics, assembly, marine services, and construction.


Media contacts:

Joris Minne, Jcomms Ltd, tel: + 44 (0)7876 218978

Claire McKee, Jcomms Ltd, tel: 07736 881727

Editors’ notes:

SBM Offshore’s main activities are the design, supply, installation, operation and the life extension of floating production solutions for the offshore energy industry over the full lifecycle. The Company is market-leading in leased floating production systems, with multiple units currently in operation.

The Company employs approximately 4,570 people worldwide spread over offices in our key markets, operational shore bases and the offshore fleet of vessels.

SBM Offshore N.V. is a listed holding company headquartered in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. It holds direct and indirect interests in other companies.

North Channel Wind is a project of SBM Offshore.

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