Wind farmers to blow into Kilkenny on Thursday

Sean Keane

Reporter:

Sean Keane

Email:

sean.keane@kilkennypeople.ie

Irish Wind Farmers Association conference

Wind farms potential to be addressed at conference

IRELAND and Kilkenny are uniquely placed to raise significant funding for predominantly rural enterprises through wind energy, yet we are “back-sliding” on target setting to such a degree that we will never achieve a 100% renewable energy system by 2050, wind experts have warned.

Ireland’s ‘Energy policy’, or lack thereof, as reflected in the “very vague” White Paper and various moves at EU Council level by Ireland to “water down” the Clean Energy Package, run totally contrary to what the general public, consultants, developers and others want, according to Grattan Healy, Chairman of the Irish Wind Farmers Association.

His comments come ahead of the Irish Wind Farmers Association Annual Conference at the Lyrath Estate Hotel, Kilkenny, on Thursday. The day-long, ticketed event attracts the country’s top energy consultants, developers and  land-owners.

“Ireland is almost uniquely placed to produce any amount of energy from wind to power the whole country and up to half of Europe,” Mr Healy said. “Yet we seem intent on throwing every possible obstacle in our own way and spending €6 billion a year on imported fossil fuels.

“A single wind turbine has the potential to generate tens of thousands of euros for a rural households per annum – the equivalent of another family income. By failing to fully develop onshore wind, this is foregone money which could be pumped directly back into the local and regional economy, saving our rural post offices, shops, creating employment and more in some of Ireland’s most disadvantaged rural communities.

“Our policy makers seem to be intent on pandering to the 3 per cent of the population which is against wind and is continuously scaremongering. If this Government is genuinely interested in safeguarding, protecting and reinvigorating rural Ireland, we have to get serious about proper and meaningful community engagement.

“It is beyond time that we to invest time, effort and money into information campaigns and meaningful discussions and stop all the misinformation and scaremongering. It’s beyond time that rural Ireland and the 97 per cent of us who are not against wind energy put it at the top of the Government agenda.”

The Irish Wind Farmers Association also says Ireland urgently needs a proper electricity market design, which is 'for' and not 'against' renewables.  “Very specific, positive and excellent demands were made by the Citizens Assembly for action in this sector but the prevailing policy seems to be more focused on paying fines rather than taking action,” Mr Healy added.

Thursday’s Conference will feature discussions on what delegates see as a hostile EU environment for wind; expert analysis of planning and the legal structure, grid connections, as well as a report on a recent anti-wind event in the midlands, as well as a keynote by Paul Kenny of the Tipperary Energy Agency. Expert opinion and assistance will also be provided in discussions featuring the ESB, future technology professionals and more.