Crown Estate opens N.Irish waters to renewable power

LONDON Wed Dec 14, 2011 7:06pm EST

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LONDON (Reuters) - The Crown Estate has launched leasing rounds for up to 800 megawatts (MW) of wind and tidal power generation offshore Northern Ireland, it said on Thursday.

Development will be focused on two areas, development of wind power of up 600 MW capacity off the southeast coast of County Down and tidal power of up to 200 MW around Rathlin Island and Torr Head.

The Northern Ireland Executive has a target for renewables to generate 40 percent of Northern Ireland's electricity by 2020.

B9 Energy, a renewable developer in County Antrim, said that a 150 MW project on a good tidal site could generate approximately 5 percent.

"The development of offshore renewable energy provides not only greater energy security and diversity, but significant economic and employment benefits. The recent announcement by DONG Energy at Belfast Harbour confirms that Northern Ireland has what it takes," Northern Ireland Energy Minister Arlene Foster said in statement.

Tenders will be assessed on the bidders' ability to deliver operational projects by 2020, with development rights to be awarded in the second half of 2012, Crown Estate said.

The Crown Estate, which manages the monarch's property holdings, already has properties that generate 1.55 gigawatts of offshore wind projects in Wales, Scotland and England.

(editing by Jane Baird)

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