If all the wind farms currently permitted in Offaly are developed, the number of turbines in the county will rise from 35 to 114.
At present there are just three wind farms in Offaly and one of those, Bord na Móna’s facility at Mountlucas, has 29 turbines.
There are four turbines in the Meenwaun wind farm, which is located at Garbally between Banagher and Birr, and two at Leabeg, Boora.
In total, those three wind farms have a maximum electricity generation capacity of 98.5MW (the West Offaly peat-fired power station in Shannonbridge was a 150MW plant).
According to the draft Offaly county development plan, six other wind farms have received planning permission but have yet to be built. The largest is the Yellow River wind farm near Croghan Hill. If developed, it will have 29 turbines and a capacity of 96MW.
Construction work has begun on Bord na Móna’s second large wind farm, Cloncreen, which is about 2km from Clonbullogue and will have 21 turbines. Offaly County Council lists its capacity as 63MW but the latest information from the energy company says it will generate 75MW of power, using Vestas turbines capable of delivering 3.6MW each. Bord na Móna expect the Cloncreen wind farm to be operational before the end of next year. The company is also considering the development of a maximum 25MW of battery energy storage at the site.
At Moanvane, near Walsh Island, a 12-turbine wind project has got the go-ahead from planning authorities. Owned by Norwegian energy giant Statkraft, it will generate up to 50MW.
The Gaeltech wind farm near Cloghan will have nine turbines, generating up to 28.8MW of electricity, while the Statkraft controlled Cushaling wind farm south of Edenderry will also have nine turbines, including one in Co Kildare. Its developers say it will generate 49.5MW.
Offaly County Council estimate the total output of the county’s permitted, but unbuilt, wind farms at 287.3MW. Already, Offaly accounts for 2.33% of the installed wind capacity in the Republic of Ireland and if all the proposed wind farms are added, total generation will be 385.8MW, which the council says is 4.7% of the national target for onshore wind capacity by 2030. In addition to the wind farms already operating and permitted by the planners, others have been proposed, including Bord na Mona’s projects at Derrinlough and Lemanaghan.
The new county development plan will govern planning in Offaly between 2021 and 2027. “Due to the absence of national guidance on how local authorities can set a target for wind energy generation within their functional area, it is not possible to set a specific target for renewable generation in the county during the plan period,” says the draft development plan. However, the draft plan says the council will work with “key stakeholders” to carry out an assessment of how Offaly can contribute to the overall national renewable energy and climate change targets.
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