Up to 100 full-time jobs will be created when an offshore windfarm capable of generating power for 280,000 homes becomes operational in 2023.

The ESB and Belgian firm Parkwind are to develop two offshore wind farms off the coast of Co Louth, the first of which is expected to be completed within four years. The Oriel windfarm will see up to 55 turbines installed 22km off the coast of Dundalk, capable of generating up to 330MW of electricity while reducing carbon emissions by up to 600,000 tonnes a year.

The project is at an advanced stage of planning, having secured a conditional foreshore licence and grid connection. The project backers are also awaiting clarity from the Government on the price to be paid for electricity generated before work begins.

A spokesman said construction work was expected to start early in 2021. Around 100 people would be employed in the development phase, with up to 100 long-term jobs when completed. The project will take up to two years to build.

“During development, typically it’s around 100 people involved. During construction, taking into account people working in vessels and factories, it’s around 1,000 employees somehow connected to the offshore project,” a spokesman for Parkwind said.

“We are long-term investors. We stay on board for the long run. Typically for a 300MW project, you would expect 80 to 100 permanent jobs in the long term in direct and indirect employment. The operations and maintenance require local employees, located close to a harbour for when maintenance issues crop up.”

While the technology to be used has not yet been decided, turbine blades are typically between 100 metres and 160 metres. A second project at Clogherhead, also off the coast of Louth, is at an earlier stage and is subject to in-depth surveys.

The ESB will take a 35pc stake in the Oriel project, while Parkwind will take a 35pc stake in the Clogherhead project.

“Today’s announcement is a significant development for Ireland’s offshore wind industry,” Climate Action Minister Richard Bruton said. “With a sea area almost 10 times the size of its landmass, Ireland has very significant offshore wind capacity and this partnership is a testament to our potential in this area.”

The country’s largest windfarm at Arklow Bank is being developed by SSE and will be capable of generating at least 520MW. Between 80 and 100 turbines are likely to be installed, and the project is expected to be operational by the early 2020s.

Meanwhile, planning permission has been granted for an 89-hectare solar farm close to the village of Killinick in Wexford following a long-running battle over the development. Wexford County Council and An Bord Pleanála had previously refused permission, but Highfield Solar Limited sought a judicial review of the decision. A settlement was reached by consent and the project resubmitted to the board, which has approved the plans.

Irish Independent