by Frank Schnittger
Fri Jun 24th, 2011 at 04:15:18 AM EST
Britain offers to subsidise Irish wind farm industry
THE BRITISH government could massively subsidise the Irish wind energy industry under proposals to be considered in London today.
Britain believes the west coast and the seas around Ireland can provide it with a large amount of its renewable energy and could be willing to subsidise offshore wind farms there.
Industry groups here say such a move could be worth up to 1.6 billion a year to the Irish economy.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister for Energy Pat Rabbitte will be attending the British-Irish Council, where the issue of electricity interconnectivity will be high on the agenda.
Mr Rabbitte will have separate meetings with his British counterpart, Charles Hendry, who said at the weekend that the proposals could bring "significant wealth [to Ireland] with very little downside".
Mr Hendry said the west coast of Ireland was an ideal location for wind farms, but the small Irish market meant there was no demand for the potential power generation. "We want to put that right," he said.
Irish Wind Energy Association chief executive Dr Michael Walsh welcomed the wind farm proposal.
He said Ireland needed to generate 4,500 to 5,000 megawatts a year by 2020 to meet renewable targets. He believed there was capacity to generate 6,000 megawatts from onshore and a further 4,000 from offshore, meaning half of all Irish wind-generated energy could be exported to Britain.
He estimated that 5,000 megawatts of exported electricity would be worth 1.6 billion annually at current electricity prices.
front-paged with reduced quote by afew
I am not an expert on wind energy and would welcome comment on the above story by the experts here. Leaving aside some dubious assertions that Britain will "subsidise" Irish wind energy and that there is no demand for the electricity within the Irish market, it seems to me that the above article documents some interesting developments:
- Fairly ambitious targets for renewable electricity generation in Ireland and the UK.
- A recognition that a larger supra-national grid with more inter-connectors is required to fully realise the potential for wind energy.
- A positive approach to international cooperation on renewable energy at the highest political levels.
- A win-win for all concerned - achievement of renewable targets by the UK and green jobs and export income for Ireland.
- A recognition that "foreign" investment is required to accelerate Irish wind farm development given Ireland's cash and credit strapped situation at the moment.
There is already a cross-boarder wholesale electricity market
operating between the Republic and Northern Ireland and the (state owned) major Irish electricity producer, the ESB, has ambitious plans to invest 22 Billion
in additional renewable energy production and distribution systems by 2020.
The situation at present may be summed up as follows:
Wind power in the Republic of Ireland - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
As of 2011, the Republic of Ireland has an installed wind power capacity of 1,428 megawatts. It is more than three times the total of 495.2 megawatts in 2005. In 2008 alone, the rate of growth was 54.6%, amongst the highest in the world. On July 31, 2009, the output from the country's turbines peaked at 999 megawatts. During certain times that day, up to 39% of Ireland's demand for electricity was met from wind. On October 24, 2009, the output exceeded 1000 megawatts for the first time with a peak of 1064 MW. Once in April 2010, 50% of electricity demand was met from wind power. However, the wind generation capacity factor for 2010 was approx. 23.5%, giving an annual average wind energy penetration of approx. 11% of total KWh consumed.
Wind Generation Not Increasing Wholesale Electricity Prices
A new study on the Irish electricity system has revealed that the growing levels of wind generation on the Irish electricity network are not adding to the wholesale price of electricity. The report by grid operator EirGrid and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, uses detailed modelling tools to look in detail at the wholesale prices in the Irish electricity system in 2011, which has a total annual value of almost 2 billion
The analysis showed that wind generation lowers wholesale prices by over 70 million, which almost exactly offsets the costs of the Public Service Obligation (PSO) levy and other costs associated with the generation of wind energy. The study clearly demonstrates that wind energy is not contributing to higher wholesale electricity prices on the Irish electricity system.
The Irish Government is also launching a grant and infrastructural development scheme to promote the use of electric cars in Ireland which could ultimately substantially increase the size of the electricity market in Ireland and reduce carbon imports and emissions.
CO2 emissions from power plants have already been reduced from c. 14 Million tons p.a. in 2005 to 11 Mtons in 2011 and with a target to reduce this to 2 Mtons by 2035.
Progress on wave energy has been slow, by comparison, but, being less intermittent, it could play a valuable role in providing load balancing capability as the level of wind energy penetration within the system increases.
In 2007, Ireland ranked fifth within the EU for the % of its electricity generated from wind (8.4% versus an EU average of 3.8%) and for wind energy produced per person (283 kW/1,000 unhab. compared to EU average of 149). Having the best wind resource in Europe, Ireland should really be ranked first however, and hopefully the proposed developments will help to bring this about. Like other PIIGS countries, Ireland is still heavily dependent on imported carbon fuels and it is good to see the alleviation of this situation taking centre stage in government policy.
Eirgrid, the national grid operator (PDF) seems to be making a positive commitment to making this happen:
In Ireland wind generation is expected to meet approximately 37% of the 40% renewable electricity target in 2020. This is the highest wind integration target among European Member States up to 2020 and places Ireland at the forefront of Europe. To connect this amount of wind on the system between now and 2020 requires an effective connection process to be in place. The Gate 3 process involves offers for connection to circa 3,900 MW of wind generation and 1,700 MW of conventional generation and is fundamental to meeting our 40% national renewable energy target.
By way of comparison, Denmark's target for wind power by 2020 is 30% of electricity production, and the equivalent figures for the UK are 20%, Greece 25%, Portugal 23%, Spain 21%, Germany 19%, Poland 15%, France 10% and other EU states less than 10%.