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Renewable energy - The Irish Times - Wed, Jun 22, 2011
The scale of such schemes is clear from an announcement made by Danish company Dong Energy in Belfast. It has arranged with Scottish Power Renewables to build an off-shore wind farm costing €1.8 billion in the Irish Sea. Turbines and foundations for the wind farm will be assembled at a new facility at Belfast Harbour and at least 300 jobs will be created. Harland Wolff is getting involved and Northern Ireland energy minister Arlene Foster expects the sector to grow rapidly in the coming years.

Wind farm and ocean/wave developments in the Republic are falling behind. Last year, applications for the development of off-shore wind farms in the Irish Sea alone envisaged the generation of 11,000 megawatts. But only 4,000 megawatts of that energy will come from Irish territorial waters. That may relate to long-standing interconnector problems. Whatever the reason, forward planning is needed to deal with such bottlenecks and greater attention will also have to be paid to the exploitation of renewable resources off the west coast. The wind speed and water turbulence there may be more challenging than in the Irish Sea but, with the use of more robust technologies, they also offer higher financial returns.

So far, the exploitation of wind energy has been developer-led and somewhat fragmented. Because of connection, technical and planning considerations, Minister for Energy Pat Rabbitte now favours the concentration of wind turbines in large complexes, rather than the emergence of small, isolated wind farms. The same approach is likely to apply to off-shore facilities, where wave, tidal and wind generators can be located close together. Provision of meshed networks in the Irish and Celtic Seas would reduce the cost of cabling and production while allowing for transmission to similar facilities in Britain and, perhaps, in France. Such a step-up in renewable energy production will be costly. But failure to grasp the opportunities now offered in terms of job creation, energy security and electricity exports would be a disaster.

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jun 22nd, 2011 at 10:05:51 AM EST
One of their better editorials.  

The preference for large offshore installations has to be right. I wonder if the newer floating platforms would work along the Atlantic coast, taking into account a hurricane every 20 years of so, and if so, how far offshore could they be stationed?

My concern is not the appearance but the available square metreage, along with grid topology.

by Pope Epopt on Wed Jun 22nd, 2011 at 11:52:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm reading it as a preference for large farms on-shore, too, which I'm less positive about. Then again, how well built-out is the Irish grid in the best wind areas?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Jun 22nd, 2011 at 04:21:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The answer is hardly at all.  We have many long hills with bog on top in my area of the North West, only a few of which have a scattering of turbines, erected by individual investors.  So we are no where near potential maximum density.

Some we may wish to leave clear for aesthetic and landmark reasons but much of the high land is not that spectacular, in my purely subjective judgment.

Speaking personally, I'd rather see an active productive landscape, like the old Dutch wind-powered landscape, than a pristine but unsustainable one.

by Pope Epopt on Wed Jun 22nd, 2011 at 05:09:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
...but I'd be happy to do that among turbines.
by Pope Epopt on Wed Jun 22nd, 2011 at 05:12:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The windiest areas are in the west along the Atlantic seaboard and on higher ground throughout the country.  These are also the most sparsely populated and thus the least served by the National Grid (although Moneypoint, one of the largest stations (Coal Fired) is located on the Shannon estuary in the west).

However Ireland is not a huge country and does have a competent national grid operator with significant resources.  We do need more interconnectors to the UK and France etc. and a higher capacity high voltage east/west network to transmit the power from western wind farms to the more populated east.  However the Irish Sea is relatively shallow in most places and has huge potential for offshore farms not far from the main Dublin market, and the UK market.

I do think there will be popular resistance to wind farms in the most scenic areas and there is some risk to damage to the tourist industry.  But we are a long way from saturation point and there is also scope for smaller farms in more rural areas to meet much of the local demand.

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jun 22nd, 2011 at 05:41:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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