News Release from Wind Energy Ireland


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New report shows Ireland will miss 2030 climate targets

Broken planning system blocks renewable energy: Ireland will miss the Climate Action Plan’s target of 70 per cent renewable electricity by 2030 because of a broken planning system. This is according to a new report, Building Onshore Wind, published this morning by the Irish Wind Energy Association.

Image: PixabayImage: Pixabay

Ireland currently has the highest share of electricity demand met by onshore wind in the world and it supplied almost 37 per cent of our electricity over the first six months of the year. This puts the country on track to reach our 2020 target of 40 per cent renewable electricity.

The Climate Action Plan set a new target of 70 per cent renewable electricity by 2030. This requires an additional 4,000 MW of onshore wind farms over the next ten years, reaching 8,200 MW overall.

As well as helping to tackle climate change this would create huge opportunities for Ireland’s post-Covid economy. Developing these new wind farms will create thousands of jobs, provide millions to rural communities through improved community benefit funding and generate badly needed new income for County Councils with increased commercial rates.

However, onshore wind cannot deliver unless action is taken urgently. Using a new pipeline analysis tool industry researchers have concluded that a “business as usual approach” means the best Ireland can hope for is approximately 5,500 MW of onshore wind by the end of the decade. This is well short of our climate change commitments.

The Building Onshore Wind report shows how reform of Ireland’s broken planning system is essential to achieving the 70 per cent renewable electricity target. It is the third in a series of four studies which together make up the 70by30 Implementation Plan, which identify the policy changes necessary to deliver the Climate Action Plan.

The most recent report, Saving Power, identified the need to strengthen the transmission system as the single most important priority in decarbonising our energy system. Today’s report focuses on the planning difficulties that are slowing down the pace of renewable energy development and would also pose challenges for reinforcing the transmission system.

Its priority recommendations include:

  • Planning decisions need to be made faster, particularly timelines for appeals to An Bord Pleanála, which are currently 59 weeks instead of the Board’s own 18 weeks statutory objective;
  • Enable developers to apply for planning permission for the wind farm’s cable connection at the same time as they apply for permission for the project itself;
  • The current wind energy planning guidelines need to be finalised based on rigorous scientific evidence and must strike the right balance between the need to develop new wind farms and the concerns of those opposed to renewable energy;
  • Introduce pre-planning consultation for Strategic Infrastructure Development (SID) applications and streamline the process for deciding on applications for SID status.

Broken planning system

Dr David Connolly, CEO of the Irish Wind Energy Association, said: “Onshore wind energy is the world’s cheapest source of renewable power. In Ireland, onshore wind has saved more than 30 million tonnes of CO2 while creating thousands of jobs and cutting the wholesale price of electricity.

“But we cannot build on this success and achieve Ireland’s 2030 targets with a broken planning system. We have the pipeline to build enough wind farms to provide 70 per cent of our electricity. We know we have the resources, the skills and the expertise to deliver the renewable energy Ireland needs at a good price for the consumer.

“But Ireland’s broken planning system is not fit for purpose. This research clearly shows it is now one of the biggest barriers to decarbonising Ireland’s electricity supply. To deliver the Climate Action Plan we need our planning system to be reformed and adequately resourced.

“An effective planning system and a stronger transmission grid will together provide the foundation for a modern electricity system which will rely on renewable energy to power our homes, our economy and our society.”

The research was carried out by the Irish Wind Energy Association’s 70by30 Committee which examined the existing 8,000 MW pipeline of onshore wind energy projects and modelled this through the development process.

With a typical wind energy project taking between 8 to 12 years to be completed it found that delays in the planning system were a key barrier to achieving our 2030 targets. The committee urged a series of changes to speed up the planning process.

Protecting rights

Dr Connolly stressed that the proposed recommendations would not undermine the ability of individuals opposed to renewable energy to argue their case.

Dr Connolly continued: “Everyone affected by a project has the right to be heard and, if they feel their concerns have not been taken on board, to object. This right must be protected. Our members must continually improve how we engage with communities and no developer can be allowed to ignore legitimate local concerns.

“But if we are serious about tackling climate change we also need a planning system that deals with applications more quickly and that fast-tracks critical infrastructure like renewable energy projects and grid reinforcements.”

Benefits of success

Reaching the 8,200 MW target would mean an annual windfall of more than €20 million for rural Ireland from community benefit funds under the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme. Failure would put this funding at risk and cost the country thousands of jobs and billions of euro in investment.

Most importantly, missing the target means emitting an estimated additional 2.5 million tonnes of CO2 annually throughout the 2030s.

Dr Connolly concluded: “Last year the Dáil declared a climate emergency. It is now time to start acting like it. The simplest and most cost-effective way to reduce Ireland’s carbon footprint is by developing new wind farms. The Building Onshore Wind report shows what needs to be done. The solutions are there. It is now up to the Government to deliver.”


Building Onshore Wind is the third in a four-part series of reports setting out the policy changes required to ensure Ireland reaches the target set in the Climate Action Plan to source 70 per cent of our electricity from renewable energy by 2030.

The two previous reports were Saving Money, which proposed measures to reduce the cost of renewable electricity, and Saving Power, which called for a stronger electricity grid to support the integration of renewables. Together, the four reports make up the 70by30 Implementation Plan.

Over the first six months of 2020 wind energy provided 36.8 per cent of Ireland’s electricity.

In 2018 alone, according to the most recent report from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, wind energy avoided 3.15 million tonnes of CO2 and cut our fossil fuel import bill by €432 million.

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IWEA, climate targets, 2030, Ireland, renewable energy, association, report, onshore, Climate Action Plan, electricity

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