Isle of Man Government progressing offshore energy opportunities

The Isle of Man Government has taken a further step towards progressing offshore energy opportunities and working with the UK to help meet its renewable energy targets with the announcement of its preferred partners to develop a wind farm and tidal power within the 12-mile limit of its territorial sea.

To that end, the Isle of Man Government has selected DONG Energy, one of the UK’s largest operators of offshore wind farm developments, and Manx Tidal Energy Ltd and Tocardo Tidal Energy Ltd as preferred partners for the development of an offshore wind farm and various tidal power developments, respectively.

‘It is encouraging that DONG Energy has been selected as our preferred partner to develop an offshore wind farm in our territorial sea,” said Phil Gawne, Minister for the Isle of Man’s Department of Infrastructure. “DONG Energy is the global market leader in offshore wind farm developments and — with the recent commission of West of Duddon Sands — now operates seven offshore wind farm projects in the UK.”  

Manx Tidal Energy Ltd — a fairly new entrant — will partner with a technology company to develop its proposed sites; Tocardo Tidal Energy Ltd, a Dutch company, has installed tidal turbines that have been in operation in Holland for six years.

A competitive tender process was undertaken for the award of an agreement for lease of the seabed in the Isle of Man territorial waters for the development of an offshore wind generation project. Note: All the infrastructure costs involved in building and installing the wind farms will be borne by the developer, not the Isle of Man Government.

The next steps entail survey work that is expected to begin in 2015 and end in 2017. This will be followed by obtaining the requisite consent from the UK Government, with financial close set for 2019, according to Ken Milne, Senior Manager, Energy Policy, Isle of Man Government. A fully operational offshore wind farm is expected to be in place by 2023, with all of the energy generated to be exported to the UK.  

“The wind farm developer is planning for a 700 MW offshore wind farm,” Milne noted. “That’s enough energy to provide power for 400,000 homes.”

The proposed site of the wind farm is off the east coast of the Isle of Man. Regarding the tidal power development, there are three possible sites to be surveyed around the Island at the Point of Ayre, Calf of Man and Castletown. The sites have been selected based on knowledge of existing constraints identified in the Manx Marine Environmental Assessment and location guidance notes. 

For both projects, existing constraints such as transport links and fisheries, etc, will be protected in any future energy developments within the Isle of Man’s territorial sea, according to the Isle of Man’s Department of Infrastructure.

Potential economic impact

According to Laurence Skelly, Minister for Economic Development, the aforementioned projects are essential to the development of the offshore energy hub and represent a key component of the Government’s primary strategies for driving future economic growth. For example, leasing parts of the seabed within Isle of Man waters to offshore wind and tidal developers will not only help the UK meet its ambitious plans for growth of renewable electricity generation, but the plan is also expected to generate at least £5M of revenue per year directly to Government, Skelly noted. This will go a long way, he said, in helping to fund public services while contributing to a lower carbon footprint.

“There is also further economic development potential for the Isle of Man, as these offshore installations will require onshore facilities to meet the operation and maintenance of the turbines,” Skelly explained. “We are estimating the creation of around 50-60 operation and maintenance jobs for just one offshore wind farm.”

Any future lease would be conditional on the developers obtaining approval and consent through the process outlined in the Guide to Developers for proposed works in the Isle of Man Territorial Sea.