ESB and offshore wind company Ørsted have agreed a new deal to jointly develop an Irish offshore wind portfolio.

Today's deal sees Ørsted becoming a 50/50 partner in a pipeline of offshore wind development projects off the Irish coast.

The partnership has the potential to deliver up to five gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy and complementary renewable hydrogen projects.

The first of these offshore wind projects are expected to compete in the next Irish offshore wind auction, the companies said.

The ESB-Ørsted deal also includes an agreement to explore opportunities from renewable hydrogen produced from the projects in the longer term.

Jim Dollard, ESB Executive Director of Generation & Trading, said the ESB in recent years has gained considerable expertise in offshore wind, partnering with leading energy companies in projects of scale and building a significant offshore footprint across Ireland and the UK.

"ESB is developing a large renewables pipeline, and as part of that has developed a strong portfolio of offshore wind projects around the coasts of Ireland," Mr Dollard said.

"We are delighted to partner with Ørsted, a global leader in the offshore wind industry, in developing this portfolio in Ireland. Offshore wind in Ireland will play a key part in the delivery of the ESB Strategy, Driven to Make A Difference - Net Zero by 2040," he added.

Duncan Clark, Senior Vice President and Head of UK and Ireland at Ørsted, said that with a strong Irish onshore portfolio already in place, the company was delighted to begin its journey in the Irish offshore market with ESB - the company that brought electricity to Ireland.

"This partnership combines complementary strengths relevant to development in this market and creates an ideal platform for Ørsted to bring its global expertise in the delivery of offshore wind to bear in Ireland," Mr Clark said.

"From the world's first offshore turbine in Denmark in 1991 to the world's largest operational offshore wind farm, Hornsea 2 in the UK, Ørsted has been a driving force behind the commercialisation of the offshore wind industry across Europe, Asia, and America as part of our vision to create a world that runs entirely on green energy," he added.

Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment Simon Coveney said the Government is committed to developing a strong offshore wind sector, which will provide the country with abundant clean and secure renewable energy.

"We’ve signed into law an ambitious Climate Action Plan, which includes a 5 GW offshore wind target by 2030 with a target to generate 80 % of our electricity from renewable sources. This will be further supported by a National Industrial Strategy for Offshore Wind from my department," Mr Coveney said.

"Today's announcement is a strong vote of confidence in Ireland's sustainable future and an important milestone in building a new, indigenous energy system, which is both secure, affordable, and clean," he added.

Law firm McCann FitzGerald advised the ESB on the deal.