Ireland’s state-owned utility is planning a move into offshore wind farm construction.

ESB has issued a tender seeking “the provision of renewable energy marine services related to offshore wind farms” in the Irish Sea.

It says it is planning to develop or acquire the wind farms from next year, through a pipeline of projects going through the planning process.
Individual projects are expected to range between 200 -500 MW in size, though some could be bigger. The plan is to locate the farms in the Irish Sea.

Industry sources said the construction cost per megawatt for an offshore wind farm is now in the region of €2m, having fallen in recent years. That means a 200 MW project would cost around €400m and a 500 MW project would cost around €1bn.

ESB will most likely partner with firms already active in the field, rather than take on all the project costs.

Potential construction partners would include the likes of Danish company Dong Energy or Japan’s Mitsubishi, while institutional investors may provide financial backing.

“Offshore technologies are now well established and the cost of electricity production from these sources continues to decline. We are working on early and mid-stage development opportunities in Ireland and the UK,” the ESB said.