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KCLR96FM interview with Ecopower director Pat Brett

Ours To Protect Episode 49: Pat Brett, Director of Kilkenny based company, EcoPower

 

Six things you maybe didn’t know about Ireland’s wind farms

Irish people want the affordable energy, the clean energy and the energy security that Irish wind farms provide. If we all work together we can build a future with cleaner air, warmer homes and thousands of green jobs in revitalised rural and coastal communities. 

Wind farms are already helping Irish families, farms and businesses. We can do much more in the years to come.

Here’s a list of six things you maybe didn’t know about Ireland’s chief source of renewable energy:

1. They provide a lot of power 

So far in 2024, Ireland’s wind farms have provided 40 per cent of the country’s electricity and, at times, three-quarters of our power has come from wind farms.

2. They’re very popular 

In the most recent opinion poll 80 per cent of people supported wind energy. And in an independent report published last year by the SEAI – where they spoke to people living within 1 kilometre of existing wind farms – two-thirds of those people, living right next to wind turbines, want to see more wind farms built in Ireland.

3. They save a lot of money 

The wholesale price of electricity, on days with large amounts of wind energy, is often half what it is on the days when we need to rely on expensive imported fossil fuels. Lower wholesale prices help to push down electricity bills and helps Irish families and businesses struggling with high energy costs.

4. They keep money in Ireland 

If we didn’t have our existing wind farms Ireland would have spent €1.3 billion last year for gas, most of which we would have had to import. We want to keep that money in Ireland, supporting our economy, and not in the pockets of the fossil fuel industry.

5. They employ a lot of people 

There are approximately 6,000 people working in the Irish wind industry and we’re going to need thousands more in the years to come as we build new wind farms on and offshore.

6. They invest in rural Ireland 

Irish wind farms pay more than €50 million annually to rural County Councils and this is growing every year. Along with millions more in community benefit funds – they’re repairing local roads, keeping libraries open and supporting local businesses in rural Ireland.

Source : Kilkenny Live

 

Wind Energy and Rural Communities

Wind energy can provide a breath of fresh air for communities,says Caroline Nolan, Bainisteoir/Manager of Comharchumann Forbartha Mhúscraí, a community development organisation
based in Ballingeary

As the winds of change sweep across the Cork/Kerry border, our villages and communities stand at the forefront of a renewable revolution.
Within the very near future, this area will have the capacity to produce enough electricity to supply more than 50% of all the homes in County Cork.
This power will come from the ten existing windfarms, and four new windfarms in the planning process which, when combined, will bring the total capacity to an estimated 650MW.
This is good news for the city and county of Cork, but it leaves us with little more than a passing breeze.
While wind farms symbolise a global shift towards clean energy, the impact is felt most directly in rural areas, and yet we are overlooked in the in adoption of wind technology.
The villages most affected are in the Múscraí (Muskerry) Gaeltacht, and include Baile Mhúirne, Béal Átha an Ghaorthaidh, Cill na Martra, Cúil Aodha and Réidh na nDoirí as well as the surrounding areas that include Kilgarvan and up towards Clondrohid.
The windfarms are having a significant impact on the physical environment, but are the structures in place to have a significant impact on helping sustain rural Ireland?
It is true that most people think that local communities are either for or against windmills, and there was a mindset that believed that rural communities ‘needed to be managed’ in areas where windfarms were going to be located.
The introduction of community benefit funds as goodwill gestures and/or as conditions of funding, was one way to appease local communities.
Offering payments to landowners closest to theturbines was also another way to gain support.
The introduction of the Rewnewable Electricity Support Schemes (RESS)in 2021, now mandates that all projects under this new scheme must create a Community Benefit Fund.
There is also the aspiration that local people should be involved in the decision-making process around the allocation of the community fund, and examples of thetypes of projects that would be expected to be supported when these funds become operational include: home and community hall retrofits, pollinator farms, cycling paths, educational materials and scholarships, and
sports clubs activities.
Without a doubt, these types of projects will be welcomed and will help local communities, but is this approach going to transform ourarea?
There is real potential for local rural areas to become the drivers of positive change.
More innovative projects and partnerships need to be developed using advances in technology. This will require leadership from our council, energy providers, and local universities.
Pilot projects such as the Energy Cloud in Dublin are testing how to harness the power that ‘gets dumped’ at night so that it can be used instead to heatwater in immersion tanks overnight.
It is possible to predict that there will be other smart grid solutions, but these solutions and pilot projects need to be initiated here, within the communities most impacted by the developments.
This type of engagement would bring lasting change to our area, building capacity and know-how, providing active solutions to climate change.
For instance, it is well known that rural communities are more reliant on cars, and do not have adequate public transport. It is possible to imagine thatmeals on wheels vans, the local post van and school buses could have smart grid solutions.
The need to link rural communities into the ‘bigger conversations’ is more relevant than ever, with climate action plans being introduced in all council areas.
The approach of providing a community fund to carry out some local projects is a lost opportunity.
Rural communities, are being depopulated and are struggling to maintain services. We cannot wait for the trickle-down effect of technology to impact our areas. We need to be at the forefront of finding workable solutions, becoming the demonstration sites and fostering genuine collaboration and partnerships so there is clear engagement in the energy transition

Source: The Echo 09/3/2024

Build Our Grid – take action now

Can you act now to help accelerate the development of renewable energy?

Click the above link to email your TD

The first step to build a wind or solar farm is to get planning permission. Once you have planning permission, the project can then look to apply for a connection to the electricity grid.

The challenge is that a project can only apply for a connection to the electricity grid during a single annual application window.

If you get planning permission from An Bord Pleanála too late and miss the window, you have to wait nearly a full year before you can apply again. More time lost, more carbon emitted and more imported fossil fuels in our system.

Right now, the electricity regulator is considering running two annual application windows. This would be a significant improvement and would give wind and solar farms two chances to get their grid connection every year, helping to accelerate the development of renewable energy.

We’re asking you to email your TD. Ask them to write to the electricity regulator – the CRU – to support giving renewable energy projects two opportunities to apply for a grid connection.
It takes two minutes. Email your TD now.

Wind Energy Ireland Report Feb 2024

The EU built a record 17 GW of new wind energy in 2023

The EU built 17 GW of new wind energy in 2023, slightly up on 2022 – and more than ever in a single year in fact. But it is not enough to reach the EU’s 2030 targets. The EU should be building 30 GW of new wind every year between now and 2030. The actions set out in the EU Wind Power Package and European Wind Charter will help increase the annual build-out – national implementation is key. Wind was 19% of all electricity produced in Europe in 2023.

According to WindEurope data, the EU built 17 GW of new wind farms in 2023: 14 GW onshore; 3 GW offshore. These numbers are slightly up on 2022 and are the most the EU has ever built in a single year. But it is well below the 30 GW a year that the EU needs to build to meet its new 2030 climate and energy security targets.

Germany built the most new wind capacity followed by the Netherlands and Sweden. The Netherlands built the most new offshore wind, including the 1.5 GW ‘Hollandse Kust Zuid’ – for now the world’s largest wind farm.

The IEA estimates that Europe will build 23 GW a year of new wind over 2024 – 2028. The actions set out in the EU Wind Power Package should deliver a significant increase in the annual build-out – and strengthen Europe’s wind energy supply chain. National implementation of the actions is key.

To that end the commitment to deliver the Wind Power Package that 26 EU Energy Ministers signed before Christmas in the European Wind Charter was key. Crucial actions include the further simplification of permitting, improvements in the design of the auctions to build new wind farms and public financial support for wind turbine manufacturing and key infrastructure.

Wind was 19% of the electricity produced in the EU last year. Hydro was 13%, solar 8%, and biomass 3%. Renewables in total amounted to 44% of electricity produced.

The amount of electricity produced from 1 GW of wind continued to grow. The ‘capacity factor’ of new onshore wind farms now ranges from 30 – 48%, and new offshore wind is consistently 50%. The capacity factor measures how much output you get from a unit of capacity – it varies between different renewable technologies.

source: Energy Global (Jessica Casey)

https://www.energyglobal.com/wind/15012024/windeurope-the-eu-built-a-record-17-gw-of-new-wind-energy-in-2023/

 

WEI Annual Conference 2024 Report

It seems only appropriate that our best attended conference follows our industry’s best year for producing electricity.

 

In 2023 our members saved the equivalent annual emissions of 1.9 million cars and took a billion euro out of the pockets of the fossil fuel industry. And we’re not done yet.

 

Over two days nearly 750 policymakers and industry leaders discussed how we can accelerate the development of renewable energy.

 

We debated policy roadblocks and explored possible solutions, we had thought-provoking conversations and we forged valuable new relationships that will help to propel our industry forward.

 

In the face of a global climate crisis, the urgency of our mission has never been more apparent. Wind energy is Ireland’s climate leader, offering a pathway to a greener, energy-independent, Ireland, and one that it was clear has full political support.

 

Annual Conference 2024 opened with Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald TD telling delegates “the Irish wind energy industry has demonstrated time and again that it is at the forefront of Ireland’s energy revolution, of driving ambitious, positive change” and committing to work in partnership with us in the years to come.

 

The next day Minister for Finance Michael McGrath TD welcomed the progress we have made towards our ambitious targets in the Climate Action Plan and reaffirmed the commitment of this Government to do more, to reform the planning system, to develop our electricity grid and to invest in critical State agencies.

 

The need for more, for more speed, for more urgency was highlighted by Statkraft’s Kevin O’Donovan who told a packed conference hall that the planning system needed to be approving 1 GW of projects every year to reach our targets. He highlighted that companies like Statkraft have thriving renewable energy pipelines which are ready to respond if the right policies are put in place.

 

And the benefits of that renewable energy go beyond decarbonisation as SSE Renewables’ Maria Ryan described the thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of euro in investment that could transform coastal communities from offshore wind projects. Building on the success of our onshore industry we need, she told the audience, “the main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing, and the main thing is delivery”.

We are delighted to share with you the daily coverage from the conference by our media partners reNews

Day 1 Coverage – click here

Day 2 Coverage – click here

Windfarms provided 35% of Ireland’s electricity in 2023

Wind farms provided 35% of Ireland’s electricity in 2023 and set a new record for the amount of power they produced, according to a new report.

The 13,725 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of wind power generated was equivalent to the electricity consumption of more than 3 million households.

Wind Energy Ireland’s annual report shows that this resulted in the island of Ireland spending €1.3 billion less on gas and associated carbon credits.

This was down on the €2 billion saved in 2022 due to significantly lower wholesale gas prices over the past year.

Analysis carried out by consultants Baringa found that without wind energy, Ireland would have had to spend an additional €918 million on gas, the majority of which would have been imported, to meet electricity demand.

Wind farms

The report estimates that Irish wind farms saved approximately 4.2 million tonnes of carbon last year, which is roughly equivalent to the amount of carbon produced by 1.9 million cars.

Noel Cunniffe, chief executive of Wind Energy Ireland, said that this is “a true success story”, adding that the country is “on the way to an energy independent future”.

“The more wind we can get on the electricity grid, the less we rely on imported gas and the more we can cut our carbon emissions,” he said.

However, Cunniffe warned that progress in wind energy generation will be stifled “without a planning system that is fit for purpose” and “a much stronger electricity grid” being developed by EirGrid and ESB Networks.

“Progress to date on the Planning and Development Bill has been welcomed by industry and the government’s plan to put in place mandatory timelines for planning decisions as part of the new legislation needs to be fully supported.

“Both planning reform and grid reinforcement must remain top priorities right across the political system in 2024,” he said.

Wind energy provided half of the country’s electricity in December, making it the best month for wind power generation in 2023.

The report also notes that the average wholesale price of electricity last month was €88.97 per megawatt-hour (MWh), down 68% from €276.52/ MWh in December 2022

Cunniffe said that the continued annual fall in wholesale electricity prices is welcome news.

“We are gradually starting to see these price reductions being passed onto consumers in their energy bills and we hope to see this continue in 2024,” he said.

Wind farms provided 35% of Ireland’s electricity in 2023

 

Wind Energy Ireland annual report

Wind’s best year on record

Wind Energy Ireland confirmed that wind farms provided 35 per cent of Ireland and Northen Ireland’s electricity in 2023, totalling a record breaking 13,725 gigawatt-hours (GWh).

This figure represents the largest annual amount of wind power generated by our wind farms to date and it is equivalent to the electricity consumption of more than 3 million Irish families, surpassing the previous record of 13,699 GWh set in 2020.

It follows a particularly strong performance last month with wind energy providing exactly half the country’s electricity, making it the best month for wind power generation in 2023.

100 Million Trees Project

Recently one of our employees took part in the 100 Million Trees Project, which is a national initiative aiming to plant 100 million native Irish trees across the island of Ireland throughout the next decade. 2500 trees were planted on a 1 acre site in Kilkenny. This area will sequester 30 tonnes of carbon per annum. An average household in Ireland emits 12 tonnes of carbon per annum. This area will also provide some much needed habitat for biodiversity.

If you would like to get involved all you need to do provide a map with the area you want planted outlined and prepare the site for planting. The trees and tree planting service is free. See all details on the website https://100milliontreesproject.ie/

You will find contact info for the project team on the website. Also you can watch one of their youtube videos here