Wind power potential

1 Oct 2010

Ireland is on track to achieve its target of 40pc of electricity from renewable sources by 2020, an EirGrid report suggests.

The EirGrid Annual Renewable Report 2010 claims Ireland is playing a lead role in Europe in adding wind power and other renewables to its energy supplies.

In achieving its target of 40pc of electricity from renewables by 2020, the report predicts that Ireland will have one of highest levels of wind power as a percentage of system demand in Europe by then.

According to EirGrid, at the end of 2009 there was 1,526 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy installed in Ireland.

This figure encompassed wind power (1,260MW), hydro (236MW) and other small renewable energy sources (30MW).

By July of this year, the report said this had increased by a further 200MW of installed wind capacity.

A positive indicator of Ireland’s future wind-energy potential was demonstrated on 5 April 2010. Recordings from EirGrid for 6am that day showed that wind generation provided 50pc of Ireland’s system demand, with total renewable output for the country reaching 55pc at that moment.

Wind energy in NI

During 2009, 9MW of wind generation was added to the power system in Northern Ireland, bringing the total installed capacity there to 301MW.

In 2009, 8.7pc of demand was supplied from wind generation in Northern Ireland, so that it has already achieved its renewables obligation of 6.3pc by 2012/13.

A further 70MW of wind generation is expected to be connected in Northern Ireland by the end of 2010.

Speaking at the launch of the EirGrid Annual Renewable Report 2010, the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Eamon Ryan TD, said: “Every year, Ireland sends €6bn of public monies out of the country to pay for imported gas, oil and coal. This figure is unsustainable and must be reduced. The sure-fire, guaranteed way of doing this is by developing and using our own indigenous renewable energy.

“With the best resources in Europe, we can afford to be ambitious in our plans. Our overall national target of 40pc renewable electricity will be reached and surpassed to the point of export, when Ireland’s wind and waves can bring money back into this country. The Government’s energy policy has set Ireland on a low-carbon path and key to this will be the improvement of our transmission grid.”

Wind generation in Europe

According to the Annual Renewable Report 2010:

  • A total of 10,163MW of wind power was installed across Europe in 2009, accounting for 39pc of all new generation installations last year
  • Wind power generation now represents 9.1pc of total EU installed power capacity
  • The UK currently has the lead in the offshore wind category – with 40pc of global capacity
  • More than 100,000 MW of offshore wind is proposed or is under development around Europe

Denmark’s 209 MW Horns Rev 2 wind farm in the North Sea came on-stream in 2009. It was the world’s largest wind farm until it was surpassed by Thanet offshore wind farm, which opened on 23 September 2010 off the coast of the Thanet district in Kent, UK.

Wind energy – rest of the world

  • In 2009, India installed 1,300MW of wind generation (it has now surpassed 10,000MW of installed wind capacity), while Canada installed 950MW of wind generation. The US added 9,922MW.
  • Latin America’s overall wind capacity more than doubled to reach 1,200MW in 2009. Brazil now has circa 600MW of installed wind capacity, while Mexico has reached 402MW of installed wind capacity.
  • In Africa, 770MW of wind generation was installed in 2009.
  • Australia and Oceania added 550MW of wind generation in 2009, reaching a total capacity of 2,388MW.

For further information, see the World Wind Energy Report 2009.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic