Posted on Wednesday 10 October 2012 by Ulster Business

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Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster is pictured at the announcement of the Crown Estate projects with David Kirwan, Tidal Ventures; Rob Hastings, Director of The Crown Estate; Benj Sykes, First Flight Wind and Simon De Pietro, DPMME/DBE Consortium.

Agreements have been signed for a 600MW offshore wind project and a 200MW tidal development as part of Northern Ireland's first offshore renewable energy leasing round.

The Crown Estate, which grants seabed lease development rights for offshore renewable projects, said that agreements have been signed with First Flight Wind
Limited, Tidal Ventures and DP Marine Energy Limited of Ireland and DEME N.V. (Dredging, Environmental and Marine Engineering) of Belgium.

The Crown Estate owns the majority of the seabed and manages a £7.3bn property portfolio across the UK. Its marine properties include almost the entire seabed out to 12 nautical miles around the UK.

Rob Hastings from The Crown Estate said: "I am delighted that we have today announced the successful bidders for the Northern Ireland Offshore Wind and Tidal Leasing Rounds. We're very pleased to achieve this important milestone, and will continue to work closely with Northern Ireland Executive and developers to progress projects and attract investment, with the aim of helping meet Northern Ireland targets on renewable energy production."

The next stage in the process will involve the developers undertaking Environmental Impact Assessments of their projects to secure the statutory marine licences and electricity consents when The Crown Estate would offer a full lease. Projects could be expected to start actual development from 2016/ 2017 onwards.

DETI has set ambitious targets of having 40% of Northern Ireland's electricity generated from renewable sources by 2020. Critics claim the targets are uneconomical and will be hard to achieve even if new renewable projects are completed because of weaknesses in Northern Ireland's electricity grid.

However, Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said today's announcement represented a major milestone for Northern Ireland and said she was "greatly encouraged" by the progress made to date to develop offshore renewable resources.

"The development of offshore renewables is an excellent opportunity for Northern Ireland in so many ways – energy security and diversity; climate change mitigation; a contribution to the Executive's 2020 targets and the business supply chain opportunities for local companies over the next few years as these projects come on stream," the Minister said.

"Offshore renewables are about innovation, growth and opportunities. As costs and security of supply of non-renewables remain unpredictable and ever increasing, the economic and environmental benefits of renewables and offshore renewables become clearer," she added.

"Energy developments - and critically a robust and flexible grid infrastructure to support them – must be seen as investments now to deliver long term benefits and savings for Northern Ireland businesses and consumers."

Of the companies who won the bids, First Flight Wind Ltd is a consortium comprising B9 Energy Offshore Developments Ltd, DONG Energy Power (UK) Ltd and Renewable Energy Systems Ltd. It has been established specifically to develop, install and operate an offshore wind farm off the south east coast of Co Down.

Tidal Ventures Limited has signed up for the 100MW tidal opportunity at Torr Head – a joint venture between two Irish companies, the OpenHydro Group, a designer and manufacturer of tidal turbines and Bord Gáis Energy.

DP Marine Energy Limited of Ireland and DEME N.V. (Dredging, Environmental and Marine Engineering) of Belgium has agreed to develop the 100MW tidal opportunity at Fair Head.

 

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