Ireland on clean-tech high as it sets new wind power record

20 Oct 2011

Zhou Jianxiong, XEMC Group chairman, and Brendan McGrath, CEO, Gaelectric, in August in Dublin, following the announcement that the two companies are to partner to develop three new wind farms in Ireland

Ireland hit a new wind-energy record on Thursday, 6 October at 2.30pm, when the power generated from wind reached 1,341 megawatts (MW) – enough power to supply 870,000 homes. It’s fairly significant as Ireland aims to keep apace with its climate change obligations to 2020, possibly attracting future clean-tech investors down the line.

Back in August, for instance, Irish energy storage group Gaelectric announced its partnership with the Chinese wind turbine manufacturer XEMC Group to co-develop three new wind farms in Ireland, valued at €18m. At the time, the two companies also signed a Letter of Intent to co-develop Gaelectric’s remaining wind energy projects in Ireland and the US.

Back to the wind energy figures, however, which were released by EirGrid today at its annual conference in Dundalk, where electricity generators, suppliers, large customers and experts from the electricity sector gathered to discuss key energy issues.

Wind generation provided 39pc of the electricity being used in the Republic of Ireland at the time of the record on 6 October.

“We welcome this latest record. EirGrid is proactively developing the necessary infrastructure and operational capability to help meet Ireland’s renewable targets, which are among the highest in Europe. Key to this will be the Grid25 strategy to upgrade the transmission grid, as well as one of EirGrid’s key smart grid programmes, DS3, which aims at securely and efficiently managing the system with high levels of renewables,” confirmed an EirGrid spokesperson today.

Already, EirGrid says it has saved about €800m on its investment projections for Grid25, since it adopted more efficient technologies for the project. Just last year, the US Secretary for Energy, Steven Chu, visited EirGrid, to see the major strides being made here, said Group CEO Dermot Byrne today at the EirGrid conference.

“Grid25 is a €3.2bn investment in Ireland’s electricity grid which will enable Ireland to achieve not only these crucial climate change objectives, but also provide a secure, future-proofed and reliable supply of electricity across Ireland. That will help drive our economic recovery and deliver essential services to all customers. The DS3 programme provides definitive actions and milestones to address the challenges identified in ground-breaking research on running power systems with very high levels of wind energy which was published last year by EirGrid and SONI.”

Osshore wind

NOW Ireland promotes the development of Ireland’s substantial offshore wind resource. It works to ensure that our island leads the way in building a sustainable, green economy. The IWEA is the national association for the wind industry in Ireland.

EirGrid holds licences as independent electricity transmission system operator (TSO) and market operator (MO) in the wholesale trading system in Ireland, and is the owner of the System Operator Northern Ireland (SONI), the licensed TSO and MO in Northern Ireland.

The Single Electricity Market Operator (SEMO) is part of the EirGrid Group, and operates the single electricity market on the island of Ireland.

EirGrid also announced today that it is revving up its smart grid efforts in both Northern Ireland and the south of Ireland, to play its role in helping the island pull out of recession and get back on track.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic