Sceirde Rocks Windfarm to create Community Benefit Fund

After being selected in Ireland’s first offshore wind auction, the Sceirde Rocks Windfarm has announced plans to provide an estimated €70 million of funding over 20 years to local communities through a new Community Benefit Fund.

The Community Benefit Fund, which will be managed by an independent fund administrator, will help fund community-driven initiatives in consultation with local people across Connemara to ensure that the Sceirde Rocks Windfarm is a force for positive change.

Michael Cloherty, Consent and Stakeholder Lead for the Sceirde Rocks Windfarm, commented: “This will be one of the largest ever infrastructure developments in the Connemara region and we believe it can have a transformative positive impact. It will bring investment, economic development and job opportunities, along with a significant Community Benefit Fund to support the local community.

“The Community Benefit Fund will play a pivotal role in supporting community grassroots activities that have an enduring economic, social and cultural benefit, including helping to preserve the Gaeltacht language, culture and traditions which make this area unique.”

The announcement of the fund was made at a community event on Thursday 22 June 2023 at the Emigrants Commemoration Centre, Ionad Cuimhneacháin na nImirceach, in Carna. The event brought together representatives of the project developer, Corio Generation, local stakeholders and community development facilitators Údarás na Gaeltachta.

The Sceirde Rocks Windfarm is due to be constructed between 2026 and 2029 and is expected to go into operation by 2030. The Community Benefit Fund becomes fully active once the project is operational, with early disbursements available to support locally driven community initiatives from the start of construction. In the build-up to construction, the developer will in addition be supporting local initiatives through a separate smaller-scale community support fund.

Following the announcement of the Community Benefit Fund, a community committee will be established to decide how best to allocate funding in ways that most effectively benefit Connemara, in accordance with an ORESS rulebook set by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications. The committee will be comprised of local stakeholders and experts from a variety of backgrounds who will create a Community Benefit Fund Development Delivery Plan in consultation with community members.

For every megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity generated by the wind farm, €2 will be put into the Community Benefit Fund. Contributions will be made to the fund for the first 20 years of operation of the project and the fund is expected to total €70 million over its lifetime.

About the project

In May 2023, Ireland’s energy grid operator EirGrid and the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications confirmed that Sceirde Rocks was one of four wind farms totalling more than 3 GW that were successful under the country’s first Offshore Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (ORESS 1).

The 450 MW project will generate clean, green, reliable energy, providing enough reliable and affordable energy to support over 350,000 homes nationally. The development supports Ireland’s commitments under the Climate Action Plan 2022. The project will provide long-term local job opportunities, economic development and business opportunities. Already, project development has led to €1 million of local investment.

Sceirde Rocks is being developed by Corio Generation, a portfolio company of Macquarie Asset Management’s Green Investment Group, through the Irish and Gaeltacht based company Fuinneamh Sceirde Teoranta (FST). FST is a joint venture owned by Corio and global infrastructure investor Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan.

About the Community Benefit Fund

The establishment of a Community Benefit Fund is mandatory for wind farm developments that have been successful under ORESS 1. The fund, which commences at the start of project construction, is calculated at a rate of €2/MWh of electricity exported from wind farm for 20 years. The total fund, €70 million, is based on an annual estimate of €3.5 million per annum for 20 years.

Community groups and individuals will be able to seek support through the Community Benefit Fund. The fund administrator, when selected, will seek to include relevant local stakeholders in the Community Benefit Fund Committee, which will then consult with local communities when creating the Community Benefit Fund Development Delivery Plan.

More information on community benefit funds from the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications can be found online in the ORESS1 Community Benefit Fund Rulebook for Generators and Administrators.

About Corio Generation

Corio Generation is a specialist offshore wind business dedicated to harnessing renewable energy worldwide. With our leading industrial expertise and deep access to long-term capital, we work closely with our partners in the creation and management of projects from origination, development and construction, and into operations.

Corio Generation is a Green Investment Group (GIG) portfolio company, operating on a standalone basis. GIG is a specialist green investor within Macquarie Asset Management, part of Macquarie Group. Find out more: