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Work begins on turbines as energy companies predict an ill wind  

Credit:  Sarah McCabe | Irish Independent | 26 October 2013 | www.independent.ie ~~

Construction has begun on a 40-megawatt wind farm at Bruckhana in Tipperary, which will help the country move closer to its renewable energy targets.

Ireland must generate 40pc of electricity from renewable sources by 2020 under European Commission rules.

Last year it reached just half of this target, with wind energy contributing more than any other form of renewable energy.

This is a global trend; the world will have enough wind turbines to generate more than 300 gigawatts of power – the equivalent of 114 nuclear power plants – by the end of the year, industry figures show.

Growth in the last year has come mainly from turbines added in Brazil, China, Mexico and South Africa.

Europe, which has led the world on wind, still represents around one-third of all capacity, with more than 100 gigawatts, but its growth has been stalled because of abrupt changes to subsidy regimes, thanks to the financial crisis.

The EU’s current renewable energy policy stretches out to 2020 with a set of goals to encourage a sustainable, secure and affordable energy supply.

They aim to increase use of renewables to 20pc and cut carbon emissions by 20pc.

Policymakers are expected to announce proposals for 2030 goals by the year’s end .

Environmentalists say targets for renewables, energy savings and the climate are all essential and have been proved to work.

But energy suppliers argue that generous subsidies for renewable sources have distorted the market, while they have had to close down gas-fired power plants because they cannot compete.

Bosses from 10 utility companies, representing half of Europe’s power-generating capacity, urged EU leaders this month to adopt reforms to prevent black-outs.

RISK

The chief executives, who call themselves the Magritte Group, say EU energy and environment policy objectives are failing and raise the risk of the lights going out.

They argued that Europe’s electricity bills are around double those in America because suppliers are burdened by subsidies for renewables, whereas shale gas has lowered US costs.

According to the Magritte Group, European utility companies have closed 51 gigawatts of increasingly unprofitable gas-fired assets – the equivalent of the combined energy capacity of Belgium, the Czech Republic and Portugal – and the risk is that more will be shut.

This, they said, makes energy supplies more vulnerable.

“We cannot have a renewables society without security of supply,” said Peter Terium, chief executive of German power company RWE.

Without action, the CEOs said the sector would remain unworthy of investment and reliable power would be a thing of the past.

“The risk of black-outs has never been higher,” GDF Suez chief executive Gerard Mestrallet said, who added that high electricity bills were damaging Europe’s international competitiveness.

Source:  Sarah McCabe | Irish Independent | 26 October 2013 | www.independent.ie

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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