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On 26 May, government and business dignitaries gathered with local townspeople to officially dedicate the Arklow Bank Offshore Wind Park. Built, owned and operated by GE Energy, the plant is the first large-scale offshore wind energy facility developed solely as a technology demonstration and learning platform for offshore wind power, and represents Ireland’s first offshore wind project. Placed in operation in June 2004, GE’s seven 3.6MW wind turbines bring 25MW of wind-generated capacity to Ireland’s electricity grid. The project is sited about 10km from Arklow’s shore on the Arklow Bank in the Irish Sea. The current 25MW project is considered phase 1 of the overall proposed project. Under the terms of the project’s co-development agreement, once GE’s demonstration is complete – approximately two years from first operation – Zeusford, a company owned 50% by Airtricity and EHN of Spain, holds an option to purchase the project from GE. Further future development of the project to its potential 520MW has been proposed by Zeusford.
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