The waters off the coast of Fair Head in Northern Ireland could become a source of renewable energy with the proposal to install tidal turbines on the sea bed. The plan, with the project name Fair Head Tidal Energy Project, has been put forward as part of a £400m development plan by Cork-based renewable energy firm DP Energy.
The scale of the proposal is quite large with the completed project capable of producing 100MW of electricity. This means it would be capable of providing energy for up to 70,000 homes in Northern Ireland.
Artists impression of tidal turbines Courtesy: fairheadtidal.com
The proposed site for the project is located approximately 2km to the east of Fair Head off the north Antrim coast. It will be located within a 3 square kilometre area.
At this point the proposal has not progressed beyond the early concept stage with research still being undertaken on the best type of tidal turbine device to install. At this stage the details run to underwater tidal turbines that are seated on the sea bed.
There are still the environmental impact assessments to get through as well as resolving onshore grid connection issues. With all things moving forward at planned speed the construction should commence in 2016/17 and the full commercial operation will begin in 2020.
The Fair Head project is being developed by a Special Purpose Venture (SPV) made up of DP Marine Energy and Belgian marine construction company Bluepower NV. It is the second of two tidal schemes to have secured leases in the area, the first of which is another 100MW project that is being developed by Tidal Ventures Limited.
DP Energy will be hosting a couple of information events for the local communities in Ballycastle and Rathlin Island.
To get a better idea of exactly where the proposed location for the tidal energy project is in relation to the local towns and cities, take a look at the map provided below. To expand the view, simply click on the map.
Blair Marnie, Fair Head Tidal project manager, said the project would be developed in two stages.
“The first stage is to install a small tidal farm of between five and 10 turbines. The proposed technology is a further development of that used in Strangford Lough,” he said.
“The second stage would be more substantial, completing the scheme’s 100MW output, enough to heat and light 70,000 homes and small businesses.”
SPV partner Bluepower is a company that was established by DEME Blue Energy and Nuhma, with tidal experience brought in by DEME which has been involved as part of the installation team for the SeaGen device. This device is the first commercially operated tidal turbine located in Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland.
The aim is that the project will have been commissioned and producing tidal energy by 2020.
DP Energy said it has received £8m in EU grant aid for the project and is in talks with Invest NI and the Interreg programme about securing further funding.