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.
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.