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Ireland's Wind Industry Growing Stronger

While in some parts of Europe the wind industry faces serious problems, Ireland is becoming a wind power champion. Last year, the industry broke new records with a third of the country’s electricity coming from wind according to the Irish Wind Energy Association's (IWEA) annual report.

Image: PixabayImage: Pixabay

In 2019 24 new wind farms with a combined installed capacity of 463 MW were connected making it the second-best year on record for new connections. There is now more than 4,100 MW of installed wind energy capacity in the Republic of Ireland, the IWEA says in its annual report.

IWEA CEO Dr. David Connolly said: “Wind energy in Ireland is going from strength to strength. Every year we are cutting more CO2 emissions, reducing Ireland’s dependency on imported fossil fuels and driving down the wholesale price of electricity. The two dozen new wind farms we connected last year will enable us to build on our success in 2019 and we have already set new records for the amount of wind energy on the system in the first two months of 2020.”

But the island still hasn't reached its goal as the vast offshore potential remains untapped for now. At the moment there are more than 12 GW of offshore projects at some stage of development. “With the right planning systems, on land and offshore, and the right policies there is no reason why most of Ireland’s electricity should not be coming from wind energy in the second half of this decade“, says Dr. Connolly.

Nevertheless, Ireland faces some problems as the grid isn't able to take on all the wind energy produced. This is known as ‘Dispatch Down’ which occurs when the transmission grid operator EirGrid instructs a wind farm to produce less electricity or even to shut down entirely. This problem is known from other countries like Germany as well where it has led to a shrinking acceptance of the population for onshore wind farms.

Wind energy surged to new heights in Ireland last year (Image: IWEA)

Building a stronger grid which is able to handle all the wind energy is the solution: “We need a stronger transmission system to ensure that we are not wasting electricity and, if we are to achieve our 2030 targets, and beyond them to 2040 and 2050, then we are going to need a plan to build a stronger electricity grid,” says the report.

The country also faces delays because of planned auctions. So it‘s impotant that the Government moves ahead to ensure the first auction in the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme concludes, on time, in June.

Politics slowing down the growth of the wind industry is also widely known from other countries like Spain or Germany where there was a record low of new projects going online last year. But if Ireland continues on it‘s path, the 4.7 million inhabitants will be powered mostly by wind energy in the second half of this decade.

Windfair Editors
Ireland, IWEA, report, annual, record, onshore, offshore, delay, industry, wind farm, connection, grid, transmission operator

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