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It's the wind that shakes the parish


By: Mary Murphy

A MASSIVE €60 million wind farm development in Kilgarvan has been officially launched by the former Minister fro Agriculture, Joe Walsh, TD.

The 45 megawatt project is one of the largest in the country and consists of 15 turbines which have been supplied by the Danish wind turbine suppliers, Vestas, and contain enough power to supply green electricity to 30,000 homes.

They are currently the largest commercially available onshore turbines in the world, with a tower height of 75m and a blade length of 45m. The 120m blade tip height of the turbines is the same height as the spire in O’Connell Street in Dublin.

Construction work on the Kilgarvan project commenced in March 2005 on the 260ha forestry site following receipt of planning permission in 2002.

The company has subsequently finalised the relevant grid connection agreement with the ESB as well as the other consents and licences required for the development. The first wind turbines arrived on site last December and started producing electricity early this year.

The wind farm will save approximately 136,011 tonnes per year in carbon dioxide greenhouse gas emissions and will help the country meet its renewable energy requirements. The Kilgarvan wind farm is contracted to supply power to the ESB under the alternative energy requirement VI contract.

A key part of the infrastructure for the project involved the development of two high voltage 110 kw sub-stations which are located on the windfarm site and on the existing Macroom to Killarney 110 kw line at Clonkeen. There is also a 6km 110kv overhead line to connect the two substations.

Developed by the Bandon, Co Cork based SWS Group, the project has taken just under four years to develop and the developers have also provided a ¤12 million 9.35 megawatt, 11-turbine wind farm at Gneeves near Millstreet.

The Group has plans to invest a further ¤300 million in wind energy over the next three years as part of an ambitious business plan.

“Making the move from fossil fuel based electricity generation to renewable fuels or wind is imperative if Ireland is to meet its commitment to the Kyoto Protocol,” said SWS chief Kieran Calnan.

“The launch of this flagship development at Kilgarvan illustrates our commitment to this key sector and also marks a new phase of growth for us as we seek to exploit the many opportunities these new technologies present,” he added.The SWS Group employs 600 people and 380 on a full-time basis.