Ireland’s largest fishing industry organisation, the Kielybegs Fishermen’s Organization (KFO), is to partner in a major floating windfarm project that could invest billions of euros off the coast of Donegal.
He recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Swedish renewable energy developer Hexicon to advance a massive two gigawatt project located 50km to 80km off the coast.
The proposed energy project, which would require an investment of at least €2bn in several phases, would feed into the national grid – but potentially also be used to generate green hydrogen to fuel Kliebegs’ fishing fleet can go.
Hexicon and KFO intend to apply for a Marine Area Consent (MAC) under the new Maritime Area Planning Act by 2025 with a view to building the first 1GW phase of the project by 2027.
Kilibegs-based maritime services firm Sinbad Marine Services has also agreed to come on board, it is understood.
“We are very excited about this. Ireland as a market has a huge wind resource in vast areas that are extremely suitable for floating wind,” said Marcus Thor, CEO of Hexicon.
“What’s really important to us is to choose the location and number of turbines and other details as we map this out over the next year. We’re doing this in a coexistence model with local stakeholders.”
The Nasdaq-listed Hexicon floating wind project in Norway and the UK is in advanced stages of development, with other projects in Spain, Sweden, South Africa and South Korea.
Thor said he envisaged that the MoU was the first step for KFO and Sinbad to become full partners in the project.
“Our business model is to fund the growth at a certain stage before bringing in key funding partners. We don’t have a balance sheet anywhere near €2bn of funding – but we now have a group of core partners who can make it something like can create that which is investible, and then money can be brought to realize it.
KFO CEO Sean O’Donoghue said he saw the partnership as “a huge boost for Kilibegs and Donegal in general”.
“There has been a lot of acrimony regarding offshore wind power, especially on the east and south coasts. We set our stall that there should be a new approach. The exciting thing is that among us we have developed – of course – about fisheries. From the point of view – the first time in the world.
“We weren’t interested in talking to developers who were drawing lines on the map, arriving at our offices and saying: ‘This is where we want to put our wind turbines, do you mind?’ We wanted to be involved from the start – and Hexicon is completely involved with that.”
Thor said that having a partner was important from the start to “not only have a stakeholder who can support the consent process, but who knows the project area better than anyone else”.
O’Donoghue said the wind power partnership will not conflict with KFO’s fishing remit.
“We have great difficulties on the fishing side of things. But in the end, Killybegs is extremely flexible. We see it as something that can generate additional income, but not at the cost of fishing.
“We have fleets that are tied for a significant portion of the year – so, for example, we see no reason why we can’t use them in this development.”