Proposal to build one of the world’s largest offshore wind farms on Waterford coast

Waterford Offshore Wind Awareness
4 min readOct 21, 2019
World’s Largest Offshore Wind Farms (Sources: 1, 2)

Key Points:

  • Energia is proposing to build one of the world’s largest offshore wind farms, 5km from the shore, along the entire Waterford coast. See map below.
  • Total energy generated will be 600MW to 1000MW. Currently, the world’s largest offshore wind farm, the Walney Extension (UK), generates 659MW.
  • Proposals include building either 125 x 8MW turbines (195m tall) or 50 x 12MW turbines (260m tall). They will be the tallest structures in Ireland.
  • For perspective, Croke Park is 44m high & Helvick Head is 50m high, the turbines will stand up to five times taller. Ireland’s only current offshore turbines in Arklow stand at 124m high and are 13km from the shore.
Energia Proposal: 50 x 260m turbines or 125 x 195m turbines
  • At 5km, the Waterford project will be the closest 600MW+ wind farm to shore in the world. In 2017, the average distance to shore for wind farms in Europe was 41km. In the Netherlands, it’s prohibited to build wind farms within 22km of the coast.
  • Energia has submitted plans to survey the site with a view to building the wind farm. The survey will include 139 boreholes at sea, up to 70m deep. They will dig 30 trial pits 5m deep for potential cable routes along Waterford’s beaches.
Energia Proposal: Offshore Wind Map
  • Deadline for public submissions was Aug 6th 2019, neither Energia or the government sought consultation with Waterford residents or fishermen prior to this. The consultation was limited to an advert in the Irish Times & Waterford News & Star.
  • A separate application was submitted by SSE Renewables in March (2019) for a similar site (800MW) 25km off the Waterford coast.


Foreground: Ormonde Wind Farm 9.5km to shore (Turbines: 30 x 159m) - Background: Wanley Wind Farm 15km to shore (Turbines: 51 x 137m) — Source
  • Proximity to shore / Impact on tourism / Impact on landscape

Energia’s Waterford proposal is either 125 x 195m turbines or 50 x 260m turbines 5km to shore.

“For the area up to 10 kilometres from the coast, the visual impact of wind turbines is significant…In some countries, such as the Netherlands, it is prohibited to build wind farms within 12 nautical miles of the coast (about 22 km), mainly due to the visual impacts.” - EU Environment Agency Report

A UK government report states that offshore wind farms within 13km of Northern Ireland’s coastline are not feasible. “It said the “visual impact” to potential sites based within 13km of the shore would be a ‘significant issue’.” - BBC, July 2019

“We sense that the visual impact of today’s big turbines — much bigger than those deployed in Arklow — may become a political issue.” - Peter Coyle, Chairman, Marine Renewables Industry Association,

  • Impact on commercial fishing

“Construction and operation of offshore wind farms can disturb mobile and sessile species, leading to displacement of or reduction in fish and shellfish resources.” - European Marine Spatial Planning

Commercial fishing, an activity central to many communities in Waterford for centuries, has been identified by many as the industry most likely to be affected by the development of Offshore Wind. - Marine Policy, P58,88–97

Dutch fishermen are finding themselves crowded out of fishing grounds due to offshore wind, they are seeing damage to marine life, little to no fish, and the catching of dead porpoises. -The Guardian, Fishing News, FiskerForum

  • Impact on wildlife

The proposed site is surrounded by several Special Areas of Conservation and Special Protection Areas under EU law. It is also located 5km from the Copper Coast Unesco Geopark. Multiple studies indicate that seabirds are affected by the presence of offshore wind warms; through avoidance behaviours, habitat displacement, and collision mortality. —Gareth Bradbury, Furness P119, 56–66, Garthe P41, 724–734.

Under the EU’s Birds Directive and Habitats Directive the law requires “that Member States protect species of EU importance throughout their natural range within the EU, ie also outside Natura 2000 sites (article 5 of Birds Directive and Article 12 of Habitats Directive)”. — European Commission

“Mammals such as porpoises, bottlenose dolphins, Northern Right whale, harbour seals and baleen whales can be disturbed by specific frequencies of underwater noise.” — Offshore Wind & Conservation, European Marine Spatial Planning

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Correction: Previously this article stated that Energia’s 1000MW Waterford proposal would be the largest offshore wind farm in the world. We have subsequently been made aware that the Hornsey One project, currently under construction 145km off the UK coast, will be the largest at 1200MW. We have updated our article accordingly. (14/11/2019)

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Waterford Offshore Wind Awareness

Promoting inclusive discussion on Waterford’s offshore wind development.