Shell announced yesterday that it had signed an agreement with Irish developer Simply Blue Energy to acquire a 51% share in their Simply Blue Energy Kinsale venture, which was set up to develop the Emerald Project, a floating wind farm in the Celtic Sea off the south coast of Ireland.

The joint venture will be operated by Simply Blue supported by Shell's floating wind experts, with the project office based in the Cork City Docklands rejuvenation area.

The deal combines the floating wind track-record and local knowledge of Simply Blue with Shell’s offshore experience, floating wind expertise and an ability to develop large complex projects. The project will use state-of-the-art renewable floating wind-powered generators.

“At Shell we aim to build an integrated power business spanning electricity generation, trading and supply," Colin Crooks, Shell's vice president offshore wind, said in a statement. "This project could provide green power to consumers and businesses alike and contribute towards Shell’s ambition to be a net-zero emissions business by 2050, or sooner. Working alongside coastal communities to create shared value is key to success and this is why we have chosen and look forward to working with Simply Blue Energy who are rooted in the local community.”

The project is in its early stages and aims to exploit the vast floating wind potential in the Irish part of the Celtic Sea, with 300 MW of installed capacity planned initially, with the potential to scale-up to a total installed capacity of 1 GW. This is equivalent to powering 800,000 Irish homes or the capacity of the Moneypoint power station, Ireland’s largest electricity generation station. This “stepping-stone” approach is designed to build the infrastructure necessary to deliver a project of this scale and ultimately enable Ireland to increase its energy independence, while also reducing emissions.

Floating wind technology can be installed in deeper waters than fixed wind turbines allowing this project to be placed 35 km – 60 km offshore, reducing visual impacts. Depending on the size of turbines selected, the first phase of the project will include between 15 and 25 turbines. The assembly, installation and deployment of these turbines could stimulate hundreds of high-quality jobs in the local supply chain. Long-term operations and maintenance of the turbines will also require local skills and services in Cork Harbour for up to 25 years.

“Floating wind energy is a major opportunity for Ireland to become a ‘Green Gulf’, by realising the benefits of its vast marine and offshore wind resources without negatively impacting our beautiful coastlines," Sam Roch-Perks, CEO Simply Blue Energy, said in a statement. "Simply Blue Energy is delighted to work with Shell to further our portfolio of floating wind projects in the Celtic Sea. Our shared vision for Emerald is to do the right thing for our stakeholders, the community and the environment. This announcement represents an important milestone in the ability of the Emerald project to ensure the government meets its climate target of 5GW of offshore wind by 2030.”

Headquartered in Cork, Ireland, Simply Blue is a leading early-stage developer of transformative and sustainable marine projects in Ireland, the UK and beyond.