Plans by renewable energy company Airtricity to expand into continental Europe have moved up a gear.
The Republic-based firm, which already supplies 'green' electricity in the Republic, the UK and the US, has been awarded site exclusivity for an offshore wind farm site 40 kilometres off the Dutch coast.
According to the company, the proposed wind farm at West Rijn could contribute the equivalent of 4.7% to Holland's offshore wind energy targets.
The site, with a potential capacity of 284mw, is located off the coast to the west of Scheveningen in the North Sea.
Airtricity said the water depths, of between 19 and 22 metres, are perfect for an offshore wind farm, while the wind resource is excellent.
The company, which has 35,000 commercial customers in both the Republic and Northern Ireland, said the awarding of site exclusivity by the Dutch Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management was a major step towards achieving full construction consent.
However, public hearings must be held and an independent environmental impact assessment carried out before a permit can be granted.
Airtricity is developing wind farms in the Republic, Northern Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales and America and has wind farms operating in Donegal, Sligo, Cavan, Cork, Wicklow, Fermanagh and at Ardrossan in Scotland.
The Dutch government has set itself an ambitious target of generating 6,000mw of electricity from offshore wind in the North Sea by 2020.
Eddie O'Connor, Airtricity's chief executive officer, said the company plans to develop and operate more offshore wind farms in the North Sea.