The Irish Ministry for the Environment, Climate and Communications has unveiled the draft South Coast Designated Maritime Area Plan (DMAP), marking a step towards harnessing offshore renewable energy.

The country’s first offshore renewable energy plan outlines four potential maritime areas on the country’s southern coast for wind energy development up to 2033.

The initial project, Tonn Nua, will have 900MW of capacity and be deployed by 2030 offshore County Waterford.

The draft DMAP includes further proposals for additional offshore wind projects in the decade up to 2033 offshore Counties Waterford and Wexford.

The DMAP and its environmental assessments are open for public consultation and stakeholders can submit feedback on its draft terms and conditions by June 2024. The final auction proposal will be published in July and the auctions will take place by the end of the year.

Environment, Climate and Communications Minister Eamon Ryan stated: “This is a hugely significant milestone – the first time the state has developed a forward spatial plan for renewable energy at this scale.

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“Since taking office, it has been a priority of mine and this government’s to overhaul the regulatory and legislative system so that we could get to this point.

“We can now plan to run an auction, and the winners can then proceed to deal with a brand-new purpose-developed regulator before applying to An Bord Pleanála for development permission.

“By 2030 and beyond, the development of offshore wind projects in the south coast DMAP areas will bring enormous economic opportunities for coastal communities, in terms of jobs growth and local community development.”

The proposed maritime areas for offshore renewable energy projects were selected after environmental assessments and a year of consultations with coastal communities and stakeholders, aiming to minimise risks associated with the DMAPs.

In April 2024, Vårgrønn, a collaboration between Plenitude, HitecVision and Flotation Energy, received offshore planning approval for the 560MW Green Volt floating offshore wind project in Scotland.

This followed onshore consent granted earlier in the month. Green Volt is now on track to be the first commercial-scale offshore wind farm in Europe.