The Government should set an ambitious target for Ireland of producing 70 per cent renewable electricity by 2030, which would help transform the energy sector and benefit consumers, according to the Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA). The call by the IWEA, which represents the wind industry – including the majority of windfarm operators in Ireland – is based on the findings of a study it commissioned which shows such a target was technically possible and, if achieved, would be cost neutral for consumers.
The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment should set this 70 per cent challenge for the renewable energy industry, said newly-appointed IWEA chief executive Dr David Connolly. Ireland had the required expertise built up over the past two decades “across academia, system operators, regulators, and the entire renewable industry to meet the target”, he told the IWEA spring conference in Dublin. Following a study by Baringa, UK consultants in energy and utilities, IWEA has published its “Energy Vision” for 2030. It highlights the risk of “a return to reliance on fossil fuels towards 2030 after the 40 per cent renewables target [for electricity] set for 2020 is met”.
The study concludes Ireland can continue to be a world leader in renewable electricity, particularly wind, but:
Wind power, “the least costly technology”, will need to more than double between 2020 and 2030.
2,500 megawatts (MW) of solar power capacity will be needed by 2030.
Construction of storage capacity in the form of 1,700 MW of new batteries by 2030 will be required.
Power plants need to become more flexible to adjust to fluctuations in wind and solar power, though an additional 1,450 MW will be delivered from interconnectors with Britain and France.
The group’s modelling confirms the possibility of not only providing clean power for the electricity sector, but renewable energy for heat and transport. It says “426,000 electric cars could be used instead of petrol/diesel, while 279,000 heat pumps could replace existing oil boilers in Irish homes by 2030”. Dr Connolly said a bright green future for Ireland was possible “if we have the ambition and the backing to grasp it . . . not only could our 2030 landscape be driven by clean, home grown renewables, but it will not cost more than using fossil fuels”. Up until now the EU target of 40 per cent renewable electricity by 2020 was the key driver for the Irish wind energy sector. The EU is currently evaluating what this target should be for 2030, which is expected to be finalised next year though the Government has yet to commit to a new target.
Signs in a number of local towns and villages have warned of parking restrictions applicable through the night over the last 8 weeks, with warnings of dire consequences should they be ignored. This all led to a heightened sense of anticipation of what was about to be moving through our region during the wee small hours.
Residents in the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council area have seen a number of very large vehicles transiting through the area over the last number of weeks. These large transporters have been delivering large sections of wind turbines to a site at the Ora More windfarm in Boho. Travelling at night in order to minimise disruption to local traffic and residents, these vehicles have become something of a local attraction in their own right, with many postings on social media from people fascinated by the logistics and challenges of making these plans come to fruition.
One local photographer has captured a number of still and moving images of this nocturnal activity which have attracted significant levels of interest with local people.
When fully functioning, this wind farm will produce sufficient electricity to supply somewhere in the region of 13,000 homes. In the context of our region, this is not an insignificant contribution to the local offering in terms of Renewable Energy. This development has at least put Renewable Energy activity on the agenda for discussion in the region……………and that can only be a good thing.
Photographs Courtesy of Mr Roy Crawford, Enniskillen
On Sunday the 7th of August Scotland provided 106% of its electricity needs from wind power for the day. Wind turbines provided 39 545MWh of electricity to the national grid whilst electricity usage from Scotland’s homes, businesses and industry only used 37 202MWh.
Sunday’s weather was not typical, with high winds across the country causing disruption to road, rail and ferry travel. These high winds were however very good for generation of electricity from wind turbines.
Whilst being the first time on record wind power has exceeded daily needs it may have happened before as a monitoring process for the data was only implemented in 2015.
Wind energy success in Scotland has been increasing year on year with turbines providing 123% of electricity needed for Scottish homes in January 2016. In January 2015 wind provided enough electricity for Scottish homes for 22 of the 31 days in the month.
These announcements have been hailed by WWF Scotland’s director Lang Banks, who said in January:
“2015 proved to be a big year for renewables, and the latest data makes clear that 2016 is already off to a flying start, with wind power alone meeting nearly half of Scotland’s total electricity needs during January. I have little doubt that 2016 will be another record year for renewables.”
His predictions for a record year are proving to be true.
Gaelectric has completed and will officially open its 12MW Monnaboy wind farm in Northern Ireland today. This new wind farm has created employment.
The £16.8m Derry project features four Enercon E-82 turbines with blade tip heights of 121.3 metres.
Some 25 full and part-time jobs have been created during Monnaboy’s development and construction, Gaelectric said.
The developer’s head of corporate affairs Patrick McClughan said: “The 12MW Monnaboy wind farm development is the third renewable energy project that Gaelectric has commissioned in Northern Ireland.
“This official opening marks yet another important milestone for our business and further strengthens Gaelectric’s platform in the energy market.”
He added: “Our total permitted portfolio now stands at 140MWs in Northern Ireland and represents a total investment of approximately £170million. This consolidates Gaelectric’s position as the largest indigenous renewable energy company in Northern Ireland, and we are proud to make a significant contribution to Northern Ireland’s renewable energy targets.”
A new report prepared for the Scottish Government by Baringa consulting group assesses the economic opportunities of renewables for Scotland’s island communities. The main findings are:
Economic benefits of up to £725 million (€939 million) for the island economies over the next 25 years, which includes up to £225 million (€291 million) in community benefits
Local economic stimulus could mean an average boost of 5% to local economic output across the Islands
Community revenue due to project equity could total up to £390 million (€505 million)
Employment boost of up to 2,000 jobs in the peak development phase across the Islands
In GREBE we are looking to help communities and businesses adopt renewable technologies, and islands have been identified as a key geographic area of focus within the project. This report highlights how large the opportunities they present are and how pertinent it is to help provide tools to access these.
However, the impressive figures of the report won’t be realised without external drivers. Improved grid connections have been identified as a vital enabler for Scottish islands to realise their full renewable potential. As it currently stands, of the three island groups examined in the study the Western Isles has a 22 MW connection to the mainland; Orkney has a total mainland connection of 44 MW; and Shetland is not connected. This means the grids on the islands are either at or near saturation point, so more renewable generation is difficult to incorporate into the system. To give an idea of the scale of the grid issue another 2.4 GW of grid capacity by 2030 would be needed for the benefits listed to be realised. In the Orkney Islands alone alleviation of these grid constraints could increase income to existing wind developments by around £2.7 million annually.
It is important to highlight that the benefits of developing renewables in island locations extend beyond those to the businesses involved and local communities. The winds experienced on the islands of Scotland make them some of the best locations for onshore wind in the world. Coupled with the geographic and resource diversity (such as wave and tidal power) offered by the islands this can help reduce overall renewable variability in the grid. Which in turn means renewable targets can be met without such a large impact on security of electricity of supply.