Gaelectric and Ideol unveil 'multi-gigawatt' Irish floating wind plan

Irish renewable energy energy group Gaelectric has partnered with France's Ideol to develop a series of floating offshore wind energy projects in the developer's home waters, starting with a 30MW-plus array.

The two companies said they are sizing up "several sites for both short term pre-commercial and long term commercial-scale" with the ambition of building "multi-gigawatt commercial-scale extensions on both Irish coasts".

“In Ireland, we are blessed with significant reserves of wind energy which are having very tangible impacts in driving energy prices down and improving the sustainability of electricity generation," states Gaelectric founding shareholder Brendan McGrath.

"The development of onshore wind projects is well understood. However, the potential for offshore generation is enormous and holds the prospect of significant benefits for Ireland."

Ideol is in the midst of construction of its flagship unit, a 2MW unit based on a concrete "damping pool" floating foundation, for installation later this year off France as part of the EU FloatGen demonstration project.

Ideol chief executive Paul de la Gueriviere said: "Our [floating wind] technology is perfectly suited to Ireland’s weather and specific sea conditions.

"It will also use local materials and labour and meet all cost-competitiveness expectations," he added. "It can be mass-produced using existing local infrastructure and offers all the advantages one can expect from floating offshore wind solutions, such as quay-side wind turbine installation, and offshore installation using cost-efficient and readily available vessels."

Ideol currently has projects on the drawing board off France, Japan, Taiwan and the UK, the last via a tie-up with Atlantis Resources that aspired to build 1.5GW in the North Sea.

Concrete plans for floating offshore wind

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The first Irish array with Gaelectric is being tailored for waters of around 30 metres, testing Ideol's claim to be able to install its floating design in water depths historically deemed shallow enough for fixed-bottom foundations such as monopiles and jackets.

"During the initial phase of our collaboration with Gaelectric we intend to take full advantage of our unique ability to be installed at depths as shallow as 30 metres," said Gueriviere.

"This 30MW-plus project will complement the insights and data we will be accumulating from our French and Japanese demonstration and pre-commercial projects and pave the way for our commercial-scale projects.”

By Gaelectric's calculus, a 500MW project based on Ideol floaters has the potential to create up to 2,500 construction jobs with a further 200 in maintenance.

The Irish government’s Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan has identified a potential for the generation of 27GW from floating wind farms.

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