Parkwind brings new hope for Irish offshore wind

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Ilaria Valtimora
October 13, 2017
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Parkwind brings new hope for Irish offshore wind

We have heard plenty of talk in recent years about the need to develop an offshore wind sector off the coast of the Republic of Ireland. But while countries including the UK and Germany have gone from strength to strength, Ireland has never got going.

That could be about to change. Last week, a development deal shined the spotlight on Irish offshore wind once more. Belgian developer Parkwind, which is part of the Colruyt Group, agreed to become a strategic partner on the development and construction of the planned 330MW Oriel Wind Farm in the Irish Sea.

Parkwind is a well-known player in Belgium. It has developed and built three offshore wind farms, totalling 550MW, in the Belgian North Sea, and is also planning a further 224MW offshore scheme in Belgian waters to be commissioned by the end of 2020.

However, Oriel is Parkwind's first investment outside of its home nation, and seems to fit with its aim to become an international player and extend its expertise outside Belgium.

As for Oriel, it is a project that has been in the making for 12 years – but has only gained any serious attention in the last week. The 55-turbine development is owned by Oriel Windfarm Limited, an Irish company founded in 2005 by Brian Britton to develop offshore wind farms in Irish waters. Before expanding into offshore wind, Britton was a private equity adviser, and Oriel is his first project.

Therefore, it makes sense that he has called on a development partner. Still, we cannot help but question why Parkwind is moving into a market that has not gone anywhere, and has no government support scheme in place to help the market get started. What does Parkwind know that nobody else in the market does?

Here’s the background. The Republic of Ireland ended 2016 with 2.8GW of installed wind capacity. Of this, only 25MW is offshore wind, comprised of the pilot phase of the planned 500MW Arklow Bank project. The remainder has not yet materialised, despite receiving development consent.

Similar fates befell other Irish offshore projects totalling 2.6GW.

The reason for this goes back ten years. Ireland was hit hard by the financial crisis in 2008, which resulted in severe austerity cuts. Against this backdrop, firms in the renewables sector abandoned the idea of pursuing offshore wind, which was seen as too costly, and focused onshore. As a result, over 250 wind farms have been built across Ireland – but offshore developments have stalled.

That still does not tell us why Parkwind has chosen Ireland, though we have a couple of theories.

First, the Irish offshore wind market is not developed. In one sense that is a problem: there is no track record.

However, smaller developers like Parkwind face a slim chance of picking up new projects in established countries including Germany, the UK, Denmark and the Netherlands, where the big players have established supply chains and can dominate. By contrast, Ireland still offers opportunities for the smaller developers to break through. Ireland could become a big market for Parkwind.

Second, there is an argument that Ireland has become too heavily reliant on onshore wind to reach its 2020 target to get 40% of electricity demand from renewables. This has sparked a backlash from local opponents of onshore wind, and the Irish Independent has reported that around two-thirds of new wind projects are involved in legal battles. Offshore wind farms far out at sea do not face the same hostility and would still allow Ireland to hit its targets.

They are the two factors that Parkwind would appear to be betting on, but we do not expect an imminent boom. We have not seen much indication from Ireland’s leaders that they plan to go big supporting offshore wind.

But perhaps they just need the right project could kick them into action – and Oriel and Parkwind will hope that theirs is the one.

We have heard plenty of talk in recent years about the need to develop an offshore wind sector off the coast of the Republic of Ireland. But while countries including the UK and Germany have gone from strength to strength, Ireland has never got going.

That could be about to change. Last week, a development deal shined the spotlight on Irish offshore wind once more. Belgian developer Parkwind, which is part of the Colruyt Group, agreed to become a strategic partner on the development and construction of the planned 330MW Oriel Wind Farm in the Irish Sea.

Parkwind is a well-known player in Belgium. It has developed and built three offshore wind farms, totalling 550MW, in the Belgian North Sea, and is also planning a further 224MW offshore scheme in Belgian waters to be commissioned by the end of 2020.

However, Oriel is Parkwind's first investment outside of its home nation, and seems to fit with its aim to become an international player and extend its expertise outside Belgium.

As for Oriel, it is a project that has been in the making for 12 years – but has only gained any serious attention in the last week. The 55-turbine development is owned by Oriel Windfarm Limited, an Irish company founded in 2005 by Brian Britton to develop offshore wind farms in Irish waters. Before expanding into offshore wind, Britton was a private equity adviser, and Oriel is his first project.

Therefore, it makes sense that he has called on a development partner. Still, we cannot help but question why Parkwind is moving into a market that has not gone anywhere, and has no government support scheme in place to help the market get started. What does Parkwind know that nobody else in the market does?

Here’s the background. The Republic of Ireland ended 2016 with 2.8GW of installed wind capacity. Of this, only 25MW is offshore wind, comprised of the pilot phase of the planned 500MW Arklow Bank project. The remainder has not yet materialised, despite receiving development consent.

Similar fates befell other Irish offshore projects totalling 2.6GW.

The reason for this goes back ten years. Ireland was hit hard by the financial crisis in 2008, which resulted in severe austerity cuts. Against this backdrop, firms in the renewables sector abandoned the idea of pursuing offshore wind, which was seen as too costly, and focused onshore. As a result, over 250 wind farms have been built across Ireland – but offshore developments have stalled.

That still does not tell us why Parkwind has chosen Ireland, though we have a couple of theories.

First, the Irish offshore wind market is not developed. In one sense that is a problem: there is no track record.

However, smaller developers like Parkwind face a slim chance of picking up new projects in established countries including Germany, the UK, Denmark and the Netherlands, where the big players have established supply chains and can dominate. By contrast, Ireland still offers opportunities for the smaller developers to break through. Ireland could become a big market for Parkwind.

Second, there is an argument that Ireland has become too heavily reliant on onshore wind to reach its 2020 target to get 40% of electricity demand from renewables. This has sparked a backlash from local opponents of onshore wind, and the Irish Independent has reported that around two-thirds of new wind projects are involved in legal battles. Offshore wind farms far out at sea do not face the same hostility and would still allow Ireland to hit its targets.

They are the two factors that Parkwind would appear to be betting on, but we do not expect an imminent boom. We have not seen much indication from Ireland’s leaders that they plan to go big supporting offshore wind.

But perhaps they just need the right project could kick them into action – and Oriel and Parkwind will hope that theirs is the one.

We have heard plenty of talk in recent years about the need to develop an offshore wind sector off the coast of the Republic of Ireland. But while countries including the UK and Germany have gone from strength to strength, Ireland has never got going.

That could be about to change. Last week, a development deal shined the spotlight on Irish offshore wind once more. Belgian developer Parkwind, which is part of the Colruyt Group, agreed to become a strategic partner on the development and construction of the planned 330MW Oriel Wind Farm in the Irish Sea.

Parkwind is a well-known player in Belgium. It has developed and built three offshore wind farms, totalling 550MW, in the Belgian North Sea, and is also planning a further 224MW offshore scheme in Belgian waters to be commissioned by the end of 2020.

However, Oriel is Parkwind's first investment outside of its home nation, and seems to fit with its aim to become an international player and extend its expertise outside Belgium.

As for Oriel, it is a project that has been in the making for 12 years – but has only gained any serious attention in the last week. The 55-turbine development is owned by Oriel Windfarm Limited, an Irish company founded in 2005 by Brian Britton to develop offshore wind farms in Irish waters. Before expanding into offshore wind, Britton was a private equity adviser, and Oriel is his first project.

Therefore, it makes sense that he has called on a development partner. Still, we cannot help but question why Parkwind is moving into a market that has not gone anywhere, and has no government support scheme in place to help the market get started. What does Parkwind know that nobody else in the market does?

Here’s the background. The Republic of Ireland ended 2016 with 2.8GW of installed wind capacity. Of this, only 25MW is offshore wind, comprised of the pilot phase of the planned 500MW Arklow Bank project. The remainder has not yet materialised, despite receiving development consent.

Similar fates befell other Irish offshore projects totalling 2.6GW.

The reason for this goes back ten years. Ireland was hit hard by the financial crisis in 2008, which resulted in severe austerity cuts. Against this backdrop, firms in the renewables sector abandoned the idea of pursuing offshore wind, which was seen as too costly, and focused onshore. As a result, over 250 wind farms have been built across Ireland – but offshore developments have stalled.

That still does not tell us why Parkwind has chosen Ireland, though we have a couple of theories.

First, the Irish offshore wind market is not developed. In one sense that is a problem: there is no track record.

However, smaller developers like Parkwind face a slim chance of picking up new projects in established countries including Germany, the UK, Denmark and the Netherlands, where the big players have established supply chains and can dominate. By contrast, Ireland still offers opportunities for the smaller developers to break through. Ireland could become a big market for Parkwind.

Second, there is an argument that Ireland has become too heavily reliant on onshore wind to reach its 2020 target to get 40% of electricity demand from renewables. This has sparked a backlash from local opponents of onshore wind, and the Irish Independent has reported that around two-thirds of new wind projects are involved in legal battles. Offshore wind farms far out at sea do not face the same hostility and would still allow Ireland to hit its targets.

They are the two factors that Parkwind would appear to be betting on, but we do not expect an imminent boom. We have not seen much indication from Ireland’s leaders that they plan to go big supporting offshore wind.

But perhaps they just need the right project could kick them into action – and Oriel and Parkwind will hope that theirs is the one.

We have heard plenty of talk in recent years about the need to develop an offshore wind sector off the coast of the Republic of Ireland. But while countries including the UK and Germany have gone from strength to strength, Ireland has never got going.

That could be about to change. Last week, a development deal shined the spotlight on Irish offshore wind once more. Belgian developer Parkwind, which is part of the Colruyt Group, agreed to become a strategic partner on the development and construction of the planned 330MW Oriel Wind Farm in the Irish Sea.

Parkwind is a well-known player in Belgium. It has developed and built three offshore wind farms, totalling 550MW, in the Belgian North Sea, and is also planning a further 224MW offshore scheme in Belgian waters to be commissioned by the end of 2020.

However, Oriel is Parkwind's first investment outside of its home nation, and seems to fit with its aim to become an international player and extend its expertise outside Belgium.

As for Oriel, it is a project that has been in the making for 12 years – but has only gained any serious attention in the last week. The 55-turbine development is owned by Oriel Windfarm Limited, an Irish company founded in 2005 by Brian Britton to develop offshore wind farms in Irish waters. Before expanding into offshore wind, Britton was a private equity adviser, and Oriel is his first project.

Therefore, it makes sense that he has called on a development partner. Still, we cannot help but question why Parkwind is moving into a market that has not gone anywhere, and has no government support scheme in place to help the market get started. What does Parkwind know that nobody else in the market does?

Here’s the background. The Republic of Ireland ended 2016 with 2.8GW of installed wind capacity. Of this, only 25MW is offshore wind, comprised of the pilot phase of the planned 500MW Arklow Bank project. The remainder has not yet materialised, despite receiving development consent.

Similar fates befell other Irish offshore projects totalling 2.6GW.

The reason for this goes back ten years. Ireland was hit hard by the financial crisis in 2008, which resulted in severe austerity cuts. Against this backdrop, firms in the renewables sector abandoned the idea of pursuing offshore wind, which was seen as too costly, and focused onshore. As a result, over 250 wind farms have been built across Ireland – but offshore developments have stalled.

That still does not tell us why Parkwind has chosen Ireland, though we have a couple of theories.

First, the Irish offshore wind market is not developed. In one sense that is a problem: there is no track record.

However, smaller developers like Parkwind face a slim chance of picking up new projects in established countries including Germany, the UK, Denmark and the Netherlands, where the big players have established supply chains and can dominate. By contrast, Ireland still offers opportunities for the smaller developers to break through. Ireland could become a big market for Parkwind.

Second, there is an argument that Ireland has become too heavily reliant on onshore wind to reach its 2020 target to get 40% of electricity demand from renewables. This has sparked a backlash from local opponents of onshore wind, and the Irish Independent has reported that around two-thirds of new wind projects are involved in legal battles. Offshore wind farms far out at sea do not face the same hostility and would still allow Ireland to hit its targets.

They are the two factors that Parkwind would appear to be betting on, but we do not expect an imminent boom. We have not seen much indication from Ireland’s leaders that they plan to go big supporting offshore wind.

But perhaps they just need the right project could kick them into action – and Oriel and Parkwind will hope that theirs is the one.

We have heard plenty of talk in recent years about the need to develop an offshore wind sector off the coast of the Republic of Ireland. But while countries including the UK and Germany have gone from strength to strength, Ireland has never got going.

That could be about to change. Last week, a development deal shined the spotlight on Irish offshore wind once more. Belgian developer Parkwind, which is part of the Colruyt Group, agreed to become a strategic partner on the development and construction of the planned 330MW Oriel Wind Farm in the Irish Sea.

Parkwind is a well-known player in Belgium. It has developed and built three offshore wind farms, totalling 550MW, in the Belgian North Sea, and is also planning a further 224MW offshore scheme in Belgian waters to be commissioned by the end of 2020.

However, Oriel is Parkwind's first investment outside of its home nation, and seems to fit with its aim to become an international player and extend its expertise outside Belgium.

As for Oriel, it is a project that has been in the making for 12 years – but has only gained any serious attention in the last week. The 55-turbine development is owned by Oriel Windfarm Limited, an Irish company founded in 2005 by Brian Britton to develop offshore wind farms in Irish waters. Before expanding into offshore wind, Britton was a private equity adviser, and Oriel is his first project.

Therefore, it makes sense that he has called on a development partner. Still, we cannot help but question why Parkwind is moving into a market that has not gone anywhere, and has no government support scheme in place to help the market get started. What does Parkwind know that nobody else in the market does?

Here’s the background. The Republic of Ireland ended 2016 with 2.8GW of installed wind capacity. Of this, only 25MW is offshore wind, comprised of the pilot phase of the planned 500MW Arklow Bank project. The remainder has not yet materialised, despite receiving development consent.

Similar fates befell other Irish offshore projects totalling 2.6GW.

The reason for this goes back ten years. Ireland was hit hard by the financial crisis in 2008, which resulted in severe austerity cuts. Against this backdrop, firms in the renewables sector abandoned the idea of pursuing offshore wind, which was seen as too costly, and focused onshore. As a result, over 250 wind farms have been built across Ireland – but offshore developments have stalled.

That still does not tell us why Parkwind has chosen Ireland, though we have a couple of theories.

First, the Irish offshore wind market is not developed. In one sense that is a problem: there is no track record.

However, smaller developers like Parkwind face a slim chance of picking up new projects in established countries including Germany, the UK, Denmark and the Netherlands, where the big players have established supply chains and can dominate. By contrast, Ireland still offers opportunities for the smaller developers to break through. Ireland could become a big market for Parkwind.

Second, there is an argument that Ireland has become too heavily reliant on onshore wind to reach its 2020 target to get 40% of electricity demand from renewables. This has sparked a backlash from local opponents of onshore wind, and the Irish Independent has reported that around two-thirds of new wind projects are involved in legal battles. Offshore wind farms far out at sea do not face the same hostility and would still allow Ireland to hit its targets.

They are the two factors that Parkwind would appear to be betting on, but we do not expect an imminent boom. We have not seen much indication from Ireland’s leaders that they plan to go big supporting offshore wind.

But perhaps they just need the right project could kick them into action – and Oriel and Parkwind will hope that theirs is the one.

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Become a member of the 6,500-strong A Word About Wind community today, and gain access to our premium content, exclusive lead generation and investment opportunities.