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Race is on to build 250 windfarms for EU's 2020 target

  • 08-06-2010 10:38pm
    Registered Users Posts: 157 ✭✭

    THE rural landscape will be transformed by the construction of almost 250 windfarms over the coming years, new figures reveal.
    The current number of 117 windfarms will rapidly increase over the coming decade to 361 as the Government races to meet EU targets which oblige us to produce 40pc of all electricity needs from renewable sources by 2020.

    However, the controversial structures -- some of which will produce more power than the new Aghada Power Station opened in Cork last week -- will be unevenly spread throughout the country with the bulk on the west and south coasts.

    Kerry will have no fewer than 66 windfarms by 2020, followed by Donegal with 52 and Cork with 46.

    Cavan, Longford and Westmeath will have just one each, while none are planned for Carlow and Kildare.

    National grid operator EirGrid is responsible for connecting the windfarms with the electricity transmission system, and said yesterday that Ireland was on track to meet a 15pc renewable energy target for this year.
    Some 1,379MW of power from renewables is already connected -- enough to power almost 1.4 million homes -- and by 2020 a total of 6,567MW will be in place, assuming the projects go ahead as planned.

    Aidan Corcoran, who is in charge of a €4bn upgrade of the national grid, said projects totalling €900m were in the construction or in the planning process.

    EirGrid plans to construct 1,000km of high-voltage power lines, and power produced from renewable sources would always be used, if available.

    "We're increasing the capacity (of the grid) by 50pc," he said. "We operate the all-island market and if the wind is blowing and generating, it is always dispatched.

    "As we move to 2020, the connection of the renewables is dependent on the roll-out of the grid. We still have to build in the order of 1,000km of lines."

    The lines will run from Donegal to Sligo, Mayo to the east, Kerry to Cork and Cork to Dublin.

    "The big issue for us is getting local support and public buy-in. This is akin to rural electrification.

    "It's trying to get to the stage where 40pc or more of our power is from renewables," he said.

    "One of the big challenges facing the country is connections and getting power to homes, schools, offices and hospitals. That seems to be lost. If we do nothing you will not get major companies investing here."
    EirGrid operate a so-called 'Gate' system, where farms are connected in stages and over a period of time. The Gate 1 process is almost complete, and projects in Gate 2 and Gate 3 will be connected as the grid is upgraded. This will result in 6,567MW of power being connected.

    But the Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA) said that some projects already with planning permission were not guaranteed a connection because they were outside the Gate process. Projects totalling 11,000MW are outside the Gate system.

    "It's a very frustrating process," chief executive Dr Michael Walsh said. "There's no alignment between the Gate process and planning. You have projects with planning that are not in the Gate process, and others in the Gate process that cannot get planning.

    "You will get an indicative timescale from the Gate process, but that's the problem. Some of the banks have money to lend, but they can't because there's no certainty on grid connection."

    The cost of building a windfarm runs from €1.8m per MW for onshore and up to €4m for offshore projects.

    The IWEA says about €14bn will be invested in windfarms to meet the 40pc target.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,632 ✭✭✭Chris_5339762

    Grand plans but they have no idea of the amount of resistance they're going to get from locals and the SACs.

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 37 summer11

    I am very surprised that this has not generated more posts.

    The IWEA have a grand plan to stain this islands beautiful landscape.

    I have followed this excellent forum for the last year without posting.

    The Road Infrastructure badly needs continuing updating (M7 B'Hill to Limerick - I can't wait!) M20 M18 N21 N22 N11 etc..

    I am certainly no tree hugger - 3 cheers for the M3!

    This idea stinks of financial greed at the expense of us all. A Brussels Directive should not be exploited in this way.

    Thousands of these 100 metre high structures?!

    Hang your heads in shame IWEA - I note influencing Govt policy as the chief aim on your website agenda - It certainly is!

    Have we not seen what this has done to other countries environments??

    Ireland needs to look to other renewables - this is the green agenda gone barking mad....................

  • Registered Users Posts: 18,999 ✭✭✭✭murphaph

    I find them quite graceful, no more destructive of the landscape than thousands of years of human activity, including farming. Ireland was covered in forests a couple of thousand years ago, want to go back to picking berries off trees, or are you content the man made patchwork of fields we have stamped across our countryside?

  • Registered Users Posts: 47 EurasiaEndtoEnd

    Living here in big-city Japan, I wish I could see more of these. I find them graceful in their own way, especially when there are rows of them all twirling in the wind together like the ones visible when flying in and out of Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. And the best thing about them is that when something better comes along they can be dismantled and no trace of them will remain. Rather that than the legacy of waste from current nuclear power plants.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,632 ✭✭✭Chris_5339762

    TBH though I would rather Ireland build a few nuclear power stations than a rake of these. The number of birds they kill is staggering :(

    At least with nuclear power stations you just put the byproduct in a big mine and leave it there.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,630 ✭✭✭Zen65

    TBH though I would rather Ireland build a few nuclear power stations than a rake of these. The number of birds they kill is staggering :(

    The reputation of bird kills by windfarms is mostly undeserved. In USA there are areas of land in California using high-speed wind turbines close together, and these can have a bird-shredding effect, though not as severe as is often claimed. However the larger, slow-moving windfarms being developed in Ireland have not been shown to be particularly hazardous to birds.... they are much more adept at avoiding these kinds of objects than people give them credit for.

    Cars kill birds (and dogs, and cats, and badgers, hedgehogs, etc) in far greater volumes than windfarms, but you don't hear the country's car-drivers being vilified for this the way certain lobbies attempt to vilify windfarms.

    Given a choice between losing a few birds and the possible contamination of the country by a nuclear fuel leak, it seems like an easy choice.

    Keep the faith,


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 624 ✭✭✭Aidan1

    Ireland was covered in forests a couple of thousand years ago

    Even as late as the 17th century Ireland was largely forested.

    The bird debate is an old one, and has effectively been dealt with by newer turbine design and better site selection. It's important to remember that a lot of these wind farms have yet to get through the planning system - some will not, so that 250 number is extremely shaky. This is why we have a planning system after all - to deal with all of these site selection, habitat, visual amenity and other concerns.

    Also, this probably just refers to Gate 3 - there is a huge amount more development stacked up on the queue beyond Gate 3. This is just the start of this debate.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,072 ✭✭✭SeanW

    Waste. Of. Money. If we want low CO2 electricity, that we can actually depend on (as wind power is literally as predictable as the weather), we should consider nuclear energy.

    It's got no primary emissions, like renewables, but indirect CO2 emissions (from life cycle) are BETTER on a per/kw/h basis. Not to mention all the mercury, arsenic, acid rain compounds and radioactive emissions that would be avoided were we to embrace a REAL alternative to coal.

    Renewable figures exclude the usually coal and gas emissions that arise from the need to have these sources on standby for when (not if) wind production falls off a cliff.

    Forget about those make believe power plants and bring in a group of these puppies.

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 624 ✭✭✭Aidan1

    10MW at that price per kw/h?

    Be serious. If you're going to push Nuclear, you need economies of scale and sufficient capacity to baseload the entire grid - otherwise the economics just don't stack up. Three 300MW units would be a start.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,072 ✭✭✭SeanW

    Aidan1 wrote: »
    10MW at that price per kw/h?

    Be serious. If you're going to push Nuclear, you need economies of scale and sufficient capacity to baseload the entire grid - otherwise the economics just don't stack up. Three 300MW units would be a start.
    You're probably right: any nuclear programme for Ireland would have to find a balance between the benefits of high efficiency that come from plant types like the EPR, and the benefits of low redundancy requirements (i.e. the minimum of spare power capacity being kept online to cover the failure of a single plant or a sudden surge in demand) that would be gained from the use of Micro Nukes (i.e. if you consider it sensible to assume one or two might fail at any given time, the grid would only need 20MW of 'spinning reserve'.

    A 300MW small nuclear setup like you describe might be a better balance.

    But even those Toshiba 4S would make more sense than the large scale wind "power plants" that are being pursued.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 5,295 ✭✭✭dowlingm

    The amount of money on an overall basis to commission a 700MW or 1000MW unit is probably not far off that for 300. Then you have to figure out what to do (a) when that unit is on maintenance or (b) at night - nukes don't ramp up and down well - they are baseload. Instead, co-fund refurbs or new add-on units in Wales and take 25% or so of their output over interconnectors - then you don't have to go 10 rounds with the greenies as well as invent a nuclear regulatory infrastructure.

    As for "staining the countryside" - can't be worse than the developers have done by turning villages into slums with gombeen councillors cheering them on. But this is the IWEA who trumpeted 1000MW of production - when before and after that day production was dire. If Ireland is going to concentrate on onshore wind, that's how it's going to go.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,638 ✭✭✭Zoney

    "Back-up" traditional power generation has to be maintained - wind only allows cheaper surplus at times. But as one has to keep enough traditional generation for a no-wind scenario (including the general area of Europe for days or even past a week) it simply means that you are duplicating the effort of traditional power plants. In an ideal scenario, yes it would mean conserving fossil fuel/cutting emissions when wind is available, but you have to account for the in some ways redundant extra power generation (whether wind or traditional) and inefficiencies in raising/lowering traditional power plant output. Or of course you can truly perform ecological sabotage in arranging water storage around the landscape (to have any impact, significant amounts would be needed - we are talking a need to cope with a week or more of calm with little imported power from neighbours if they are also relying on wind for their grid).

    As is, it seems really that wind operators are just being indirectly subsidised by the State/taxpayers for dubious benefit.

    And that is all before you start worrying about visual impact (or indeed auditory - very relevant in our countryside where there is very very little uninhabited wilderness, except the summits of what we call mountains).

    It's all a sham in my opinion.

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 332 ✭✭freighter

    I hope they all go ahead. They are my bread and butter.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,072 ✭✭✭SeanW

    care to elaborate?