Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Five Reasons why we have reached saturation point with wind energy

To any impartial analyst, Ireland has reached saturation point with wind energy and it should now be time to put a pause on new wind development and consider our options. No damage was ever done down through history by pausing before deciding what to do next. Think of how many billions of euros we could have saved if this was done in 2006.

  1. Dumping of wind power and the 50% limit on wind - recent evidence shows that during periods of high winds we have to dump more and more of available wind energy to maintain a safe secure supply of electricity.  On the 30th March, at least 26% of available wind energy was dumped. 
  2. Over capacity - We now have generation capacity equivalent to double our peak demand and three times that of our average electricity demand needs. Let's use up this excess capacity before we start building any more. No new generating units (including wind) need to be built unless they are replacing retired units.
  3. Baseload plant minimum load requirements - there is a requirement for 5 large generating units to be running at all times for "dynamic stability". These comprise combined cycle gas turbine plants and Moneypoint coal plant. This means they can never be completely switched off. Increasing wind penetration further will exacerbate the inefficiencies inherent in running these plant on low loads, thereby negating any additional savings due to adding more wind.
  4. Electricity bills are one of the highest in Europe - government policy has locked society into high electricity prices with the preference towards subsidized forms of generation meaning savings from falls in wholesale prices can never filter down to consumer's bills. Another factor is that an over supply of generation capacity results in units requiring subsidies and capacity payments to recover their high fixed costs as payments for energy generation become insufficient and staggered due to low demand and more intermittent wind on the system. There are also extra costs due to new infrastructure required to carry the wind power.
  5. Impacts on other sectors - The tourism and equine industries are two of the largest industries in Ireland supporting many direct and indirect jobs. Chances are if you live outside any of the main cities, your job is dependent in someway on either of these industries.  Planting wind farms and associated pylons near scenic and horse breeding locations will have a negative impact on these important industries.  The Irish Hotels Federation recently warned that the location of energy infrastructure should not diminish the natural beauty of the landscape because this is an important element of the Irish tourism product. Already, this impact is being felt with one castle owner recently saying "The tourists can't believe it. They said we're mad. They said we're ruining our heritage. They say it's disgusting to go around Ireland now"


  1. Great piece. Simple and to the point.

  2. This week's Meath Chronicle had an Add by Element Power about their plans for a wind farm covering a large area of South west Meath and North Kildare. It all for the Irish market.