Mayo County Council is to receive €31 million in funding for the development of a four-year floating offshore wind project off the coast of Belmullet.

The funding – secured from Interreg North West Europe – will contribute to the first full-scale floating wind turbine to be developed by a local authority.

Peter Hynes chief executive of Mayo County Council said the development will place the county right at the very heart of the renewable energy industry.

He also pointed to the “huge opportunities” that will now emerge for the creation of a supply chain and supporting industries in the area.

The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton said that Ireland was fortunate to have “a fantastic wind energy resource”.

Decarbonising our electricity supply will be crucial in becoming a leader in climate change.

He continued: “Almost one third of Ireland’s electricity currently comes from renewable with wind being the highest contributor. However, we need to step up our ambition in this area and stretch ourselves farther.

“I welcome this project as an excellent opportunity to further explore the potential of offshore wind.”

Commenting on the scale of the project, Jim Gannon, chief executive of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) said the company recognised “the many significant steps” that would need to be taken to deliver the project.

Gannon went on to say that it was “an ambitious project” and one that would prove Ireland’s strength in wind energy.

He continued: “This is an ambitious project and we will work with all project partners and local and national stakeholders to maximise local and national benefits.

“This project will show Ireland’s strengths, not only in terms of its significant wind resources, but also as a responsive, innovative and agile country.”

Stefano Porcari chief operating officer of Saipem’s E&C Offshore Division and CEO of Saipem SA said the company was committed to diversifying its core business to offer modern solutions to the renewable energy market.

The Co. Mayo project, he added, represents a unique opportunity for the company to prove its “floating wind technology in severe environments”.

“This full-scale floating turbine complements Saipem’s set of integrated services and is part of the fixed offshore wind capabilities; it consolidates the pioneering spirit of our company which pushes the boundaries of the energy industry a bit further.

“Together, with our consortium partners, we will work on the feasibility and the cost effectiveness of this floating offshore wind project for a low carbon emission energy environment.”