Oriel is an offshore wind farm planned to be developed in the Irish Sea. The proposed farm will be located off the coast of County Louth in Ireland.

With an operational capacity of up to 375MW, Oriel Wind Farm will be able to power around 300,000 houses.

It is expected to produce 1,500GWh of energy per year, offsetting 600,000 tonnes of carbon emissions on average annually.

Oriel Windfarm Limited, an Irish renewable energy company, was formed in 2005 to develop the project.

Oriel applied for a Foreshore Lease in 2007 and a draft Foreshore Lease with conditions was issued for the project in 2010. However, the project was put on hold due to the recession and fall in energy demand.

Parkwind NV and ESB joined in 2017 and 2019, respectively, as development partners.

In March 2022, Ireland’s Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan launched the Maritime Area Consent (MAC) Regime. The minister also invited MAC applications from seven qualified Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) projects including Oriel Offshore Wind Farm.

Under the regime, the ministry will issue Maritime Area Consents (MACs) to eligible renewable energy developers, enabling them to seek permission for offshore wind projects from the planning body An Bord Pleanála.

If the first Renewable Energy Support Scheme (RESS) auction for offshore wind is completed in 2022, then the onshore construction works for the Oriel Offshore Wind Farm may commence in 2024.

The offshore construction will begin in 2025 and the project will become operational in 2026.

Location and Site details

Oriel Offshore Wind Farm will be located off the coast of County Louth around 22km east of Dundalk and 24km north-east of Drogheda. The site is nearly 6km at closest point from the shore.

The location was selected following an extensive review of sites in the Irish Sea. Several factors including water depth, seabed sediments, wind speeds, access to existing grid infrastructure, and shipping channels among others were considered before the location was finalised.

Once operational, Oriel is expected to become the first fully operational commercial wind farm in Irish waters.

Project details

The Oriel Wind Farm is expected to reduce Ireland’s carbon emissions and reduce its dependence on fossil fuels.

The offshore segment of the project will include wind turbines, offshore export cables, wind turbine foundations, inter-array cables, and an offshore substation.

The project is expected to feature up to 25 turbines with a capacity of up to 15MW.

According to the 2007 EIS, 55 turbines with a capacity of 4.5-5MW over an area of 23km2 were proposed for the project. However, an updated arrangement will now be considered as the advancement of the technology led to an increase in wind turbine capacities.

The blade length of the turbines will be up to 120m, while the towers will be up to 150m.

The turbines will be supported by foundations that are suitable to the sea bed conditions. The 2007 EIS considered the installation of concrete caisson gravity foundations, with monopiles and jacket foundations as alternatives.

The inter-array cables will connect each wind turbine into arrays or strings while simultaneously connecting them to the offshore substation. The cables will be buried wherever possible and cable protection will be applied according to the conditions.

The offshore substation, to be located within the Foreshore Lease area, will collect electricity generated by the turbines and transmit it to the shore via offshore export cables.

The onshore segment of the wind farm will comprise a landfall site, a new 220kv substation, a 220kv overhead transmission line and around 20km of onshore cable.

At the landfall site, the offshore export cables will be connected to the onshore transmission cables.

It is estimated that a Cable Route Corridor of approximately 20km in length will be required to connect the substation site to the landfall site. The cables will include High Voltage Alternating Current (HVAC) power cables and communication cables.

The HVAC power cables will be insulated with cross linked polyethylene electrical conductors.

The onshore substation, expected to be located in the Stickillin area, will include an independent generator. The Irish electric power transmission operator EirGrid’s equipment and Customer (OWL) equipment will be separated.

The EirGrid compound will have the 220 kV connections and the main substation, while the customer compound will contain a reactor.

The majority of the equipment of GIS substation will be housed within the building.

Contractors involved

In August 2019, Alpha Marine completed geotechnical survey campaign of the Oriel Windfarm project successfully.

Subsequently, Geoquip completed another a geotechnical survey campaign for the proposed project during March 2020.

In July 2021, Partrac announced the completion of an offshore wind resource measurement campaign for Oriel. The project work was completed using floating lidar technology.

RPS has been appointed to provide project management, planning, ecological surveys, environmental impact assessment, and appropriate assessment for the project.