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Wind energy take-up needs Government aid

A billboard campaign promoting the connection between wind energy and dealing with climate change will be unveiled across nine counties today.

The campaign will highlight the role wind energy has played in leading the move away from green-house gas-emitting fossil fuels towards clean, renewable, electricity.

David Connolly, CEO of the Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA), said renewables had the capacity to provide more than 70% our electricity by 2030, but meeting this target required Government support.

Dr Connolly said climate change “is the single greatest challenge of our time and the responsibility of meeting it belongs to each of us”.

“The more wind energy we use, the fewer our CO2 emissions,” he said.

The most recent report from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) found that in 2017 wind energy was responsible for avoiding 2.7m tonnes of CO2 emissions.

Last December, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that a 21% increase in wind powered electricity in 2017 was responsible for a sharp fall in CO2 emissions in the energy sector.

The IWEA said growth of wind energy means that the amount of CO2 emitted per unit of energy produced is now at its lowest level on record.

Last year wind energy provided 29% of Ireland’s electricity “but that is not enough. Ireland must do better,” said Dr Connolly.

“We know that wind, with other renewables like solar and biogas, alongside battery technology and greater interconnection, can provide 70% of our electricity by 2030,” he said.

Currently, there are about 200 wind farms in Ireland. An opinion poll conducted by the IWEA last November found 83% of people support wind power in the Republic of Ireland.

However, the Aer Corps expressed some opposition under draft guidelines submitted to the Department of Defence. Aer Corps concerns centre on the impact wind farm development may have on safety and capability of its operations.

A spokesperson for IWEA said they were “still engaging with the Department of Defence on that”.

Climate Action and Environment Minister Richard Bruton will launch the campaign today. Posters will appear on 45 billboards and bus shelters over the next two weeks in Cork, Donegal, Dublin, Galway, Kerry, Offaly, Tipperary, Waterford, and Westmeath.

Developing a wind farm involves planning permission and applying to the Commission for Energy Regulation to get a grid connection offer. Once the application is accepted, the connection will be via either ESB networks, for smaller projects, or Eirgrid, for larger developments.