Wind Energy Ireland said the sector is saving millions of tonnes of carbon, but that planning reform and grid reinforcement is required for Ireland to become energy independent.
Wind energy hit a new record in Ireland and cut spending on gas by almost €1.3bn last year, according to a new report.
These findings come from the annual report of Wind Energy Ireland, which shows that Ireland’s wind farms supplied 35pc of the country’s electricity in 2023, a 1pc increase compared to 2022.
Wind generated a record-breaking 13,725 gigawatt-hours (GWh) in 2023, which is equivalent to the electricity consumption of more than 3m Irish families according to the report.
The report also claims that the fossil fuel industry lost out on almost €918m last year that Ireland would have spent on gas, along with an additional €358m Ireland saved on carbon credits.
The total amount saved on gas was lower than the €2bn saved in 2022, which the report attributes to significantly lower wholesale gas prices in 2023.
Wind Energy Ireland CEO Noel Cunniffe said more wind generation means Ireland relies less on imported gas, which means we cut our carbon emissions and “keep that money at home”.
“Electricity generated from Irish wind farms replaces imported fossil fuels,” Cunniffe said. “Our members can be proud of the role Irish wind farms are playing in supporting Irish electricity consumers and reducing our carbon emissions. It is a true success story, and we are on the way to an energy independent future for Ireland.”
The report estimates that Irish wind farms saved roughly 4.2m tonnes of carbon last year, which is roughly equivalent to the amount of carbon produced by 1.9m cars.
Despite the new record, Cunniffe said Ireland needs a planning system that is “fit for purpose” to build the wind farms needed to achieve energy independence.
“We cannot get the power to where it is needed without support for EirGrid and ESB Networks to develop a much stronger electricity grid,” he said. “Progress to date on the Planning and Development Bill has been welcomed by industry and the Government’s plan to put in place mandatory timelines for planning decisions as part of the new legislation needs to be fully supported.
“Both planning reform and grid reinforcement must remain top priorities right across the political system in 2024.”
One of the ambitious goals in Ireland’s Climate Action Plan is to have 80pc of the country’s electricity come from wind and solar energy sources by 2030. But a KPMG report at the end of 2023 claimed that 95pc of consulted experts don’t believe this target will be achieved.
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