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Shell exits Irish offshore wind-energy market in new blow to sector

Shell is ending its involvement in the Western Star and Emerald floating offshore wind energy projects

UK energy giant Shell is exiting the Irish offshore wind energy market in another blow to the Government’s hopes of accelerating the deployment of urgently needed renewable power, the Irish Independent has learned.

Shell had been working in partnership with Irish marine renewable energy developer Simply Blue Group.

The two companies confirmed the move on Friday night. 

“Simply Blue Group and Shell confirm that Shell will end its involvement in the Western Star and Emerald offshore wind projects in Ireland,” they said. They declined to give any further details.

Shell’s exit marks the second time in less than a year that a major energy group has ended involvement in the Irish offshore wind energy sector, where planning delays have been heavily criticised by operators.

In November last year, Norway’s Equinor ended its partnership with the ESB as the pair advanced plans for a number of offshore wind projects around the coast of Ireland. 

It was reported at the time that Equinor decided to pull out of Ireland that its decision was based in part on regulatory and planning issues here. It’s likely that Shell also had similar concerns.

The latest exit should sound a warning bell for the Government as it tries to meet ambitious green energy targets and tackle the energy crisis.

Shell is ending its involvement in the Western Star and Emerald floating offshore wind energy projects. It inked a deal only last November to buy a 51pc stake in the Western Star project off the coast of Clare from Simply Blue.

Western Star is slated to deliver a total of 1.35GW of wind energy in two phases. The offshore windfarm will cost as much as €2bn to develop.

Earlier last year, Shell took a 51pc share in Simply Blue’s Emerald project, where it’s planning to build a 1GW offshore floating wind farm.

During the summer, the Government raised the target for offshore wind energy generation to 7GW by 2030, from a previous 5GW target. But industry players already believed that the 5GW goal was unlikely to be achieved.

Shell is understood to be refocusing its offshore wind energy assets and capital on its operations in Scotland.

It’s thought that Simply Blue is already in negotiations with another potential partner for the Western Star and Emerald projects.

Separately, Simply Blue announced this week that it ha s signed an agreement with Canada’s Irving Oil to explore opportunities for the potential development of an integrated renewable energy hub at the Whitegate refinery in Cork, which is owned by Irving. It is Ireland’s only refinery. 

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