Wind power expansion set for Northern Ireland

Sir Reg Empey, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment, has announced that his Department and the Crown Estate have agreed the terms of a competition to offer a lease of a site off the North Coast of Northern Ireland for the development of a wind farm of at least 150 megawatts.

The Crown Estate will shortly be issuing tender documents and they will arrange a competition to identify a competent developer for the project by the end of April.

Sir Reg said: “My Department is committed to exploring new ways of producing more of our electricity from renewable energy resources, and this competition is a further step towards investigating the feasibility of harnessing a significant amount of energy from offshore wind power in Northern Ireland.

“Potential developers interested in acquiring the lease of the site will be required to demonstrate their capacity to develop this new form of renewable energy.

“The site is close to environmentally sensitive areas around the North Coast and therefore any proposals for development will be subject to a full environmental impact study.

“If the environmental and technical requirements can be met, electricity generated from a North Coast wind farm could be supplying customers in Northern Ireland by 2005."

The development followed the unveiling of a £150 million plan to exploit Northern Ireland wind power in Fermanagh and Tyrone.

Dublin-based company Eirtricity is keen to develop their Northern Ireland market and are currently awaiting a decision from planning authorities for the two wind farm developments which could produce sufficient electricity to provide the needs of 60,000 homes.

At present only two per cent of Northern Ireland's energy supplies come from renewables such as wind and water.


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