to reduce GHG emissions? Don't put all your eggs in the windfarm basket.
This week the EPA reported that emissions have risen across all main sectors in the Irish economy. It was widely reported on in the Irish media but certain details were either omitted or not focused on.
In 2016, we had about 2,800MW of wind energy in Ireland, enough electricity generating capacity to meet about 50% of demand on a winter's day like today. If the wind was blowing constantly all the time. As it doesn't, we get about 840MW output on average. But this output varies every day and year.
An interesting fact can be gleaned from this, although it is not apparent in the EPA report or in media articles (investigative journalists are in short supply, hence the need for blogs like this one). We built about 460MW of new wind farms in 2016. The EPA report states that :
Renewables now account for 25.6% of electricity generated in 2016 (down from 27.3% in 2015).
So we built more wind farms, costing somewhere in the region of €600-800 million, but the total share of renewables contribution to electricity actually decreased. Yes, I hear you say, but what about demand ? Demand increased by 2.3%. We can infer from Eirgrid's reports that this was an annual increase of about 630,000MW/hr. This converts to an average growth in power demand of about 70 MW.
This means that the 460MW of new wind farms were not able to keep pace with electricity growth of 70MW or just 15% of the new wind capacity. So you can see the folly of adding more wind. New wind farms do not automatically mean more renewable energy or reduced emissions.
Meanwhile, eco warriors and greens are warning about the dangers of Irish agriculture. Beef exports make up about 25% of total Irish exports. The same people egging on the eradication of our beef production are also (mostly) the same people freaking out about the negative impact of Brexit on the Irish economy. Looks like a serious case of cognitive dissonance to me.
1) Eirgrid Report on wind energy 2016 - http://www.eirgrid.ie/site-files/library/EirGrid/Annual-Renewable-Constraint-and-Curtailment-Report-2016-v1.0.pdf