The wind energy industry needs to invest up to €6bn over the next decade for the Government to reach its target of generating a third of the country’s power from renewable sources, according to head of the wind energy lobby group.
Speaking at yesterday’s launch of the Irish Wind Energy Association’s (IWEA) guidelines on best practice for on-shore wind projects in Ireland, the body’s chief executive Michael Walsh said: “With over 1,000 megawatts of wind power already connected on the island of Ireland, the wind energy has already invested over €1bn in generation capacity.”
He said the industry is planning between €4bn and €6bn in wind power over the next 10 years. “This will require a total annual investment of over €500m, creating 3,000 jobs.”
Ireland has a target of generating 33pc of its renewable energy requirements from the begining of 2020.
Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Eamon Ryan, who launched the guidelines, said: “The recently published all-island grid study goes quite a way further, stating that it is technically feasible to supply up to 42pc of our power requirements from renewable energy sources by the same date.”
The proper development of the wind energy industry is “key” to achieving these targets, Mr Ryan said.
The minister unveiled a new tariff system for offshore wind farms in February, guaranteeing a price of €140 per megawatt (MW) hour for wind generated power off Ireland’s coasts. One megawatt can power 5,000 homes for 60 minutes, according to department officials.
This brings incentives into line with other European countries and is seen as paving the way for significant investment in this area.
However, Mr Ryan is coming under significant industry pressure to address the less attractive incentives – or renewable feed-in tariff (REFIT) scheme – introduced in 2006 for on-land projects by his predecessor, Noel Dempsey.
There is heightened speculation in the industry that Mr Ryan will seek to address the disparity in the near future, allowing for the fact that offshore developments are much more expensive and risky.
The best practice guidelines were produced by the IWEA with support from Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI). They were launched ahead of both the SEI-organised Energy Show, an annual showcase for the renewable energy sector, and the IWEA’s 2008 conference in Dublin later this week.
– Joe Brennan
14 April 2008
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