The company that wants to export electrity to Britain generated from wind in Laois has signed a contract with the State-owned forestry company to use forestry land for wind turbines.
Element Power has signed an option agreement to lease lands from Coillte, which will enable it to consider wind farm development on some Coillte-owned sites in Laois and other midland counties., as part of a major wind energy export project.
The deal gives Element Power the potential to incorporate a selection of Coillte sites within clusters of wind farms being developed for the Greenwire project across the counties of Kildare, Laois, Meath, Offaly and Westmeath, for which the developers, Element Power intend to seek planning permission.
Greenwire says it is the is the first and only wind export project in Ireland with firm grid connection to the UK National Grid having earlier in the year secured two connection points in Wales with a view to delivering 3,000 megawatts of wind energy from Ireland to the UK by 2018. This agreement with Coillte further strengthens that position.
Welcoming the announcement today, CEO of Element Power Ireland, Tim Cowhig said.
“This is another great milestone for Greenwire. In July, we signed firm grid connection contracts with the UK National Grid and in November the UK published their Energy Bill facilitating the import of renewable energy into Britain. We now welcome Coillte as Greenwire’s first strategic partner and will be identifying others in reaching final definition of this ground-breaking project.
“We know that our experience of developing wind energy will deliver a project which will be a win-win to Ireland and the UK while simultaneously meeting the highest standards expected of the industry.
“We intend having option agreements with all landowners who wish to participate in this project completed and signed early next year with a view to submitting a planning application by the end of 2013. Those plans are firmly on course and this announcement gives our project substantial additional momentum,” concluded Mr Cowhig.
CEO of Coillte , David Gunning, said “Coillte is excited to play its part in the development of export led renewable energy projects, which can harvest our natural resources in a sustainable way to the economic benefit of the country. This deal with Element Power is the first significant signing for us in this area and we continue to engage with all the players in the wind energy export sector and look forward to continuing to play a key role in realising this great export opportunity for Ireland Inc.”
Element Power said it reiterated that no new overhead lines will be used in this project which is being developed entirely independently of the Irish electricity grid.
Element Power is also requesting submissions of interest for further strategic partners which could include Bord na Mona.
A spokesperson for the energy company said it has also made progress in signing up farmers to the proejct with more than 150 signed up to date. across the counties.
Some 700 turbines are planned under the €8 billion project of which about 75 will be based in Laois. There will be 15 turbines per cluster.