In the first three months of 2020, wind energy was the leading source of electricity in Ireland for the first time.
The Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA) has said that figures from the first quarter of 2020 suggest “it is only a matter of time” before wind energy is Ireland’s number one source of electricity.
Figures released by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) showed that wind energy provided 3,390GWh of electricity during the quarter. This amounted to 43.8pc of demand and, for the first time, surpassed natural gas which provided 3,324GWh, or 41.8pc of demand.
Commenting on the findings, Dr David Connolly, CEO of the IWEA, said: “Last year was a record-breaking year for the industry as we provided a third of the country’s electricity demand. The first three months of 2020 show that we are well on track to beat that record.
“More wind power means less carbon emissions. It means less fossil fuel imports. It means more jobs and more investment in Ireland.”
Connolly added that the next Government must have the right policies and strategies if Ireland is to come anywhere close to its target of having 70pc of the country’s electricity sourced from renewables by 2030.
A need for action
“It can take eight to 12 years to develop a wind farm in Ireland,” he said. “This means that any Government serious about our 2030 targets has – at most – only a couple of years to make the right policy choices to grow Ireland’s renewable energy industry and turn this country into a leader in the fight against climate change.”
The first few months of 2020 saw a number of strong storms hit the country, resulting in bumper generation of electricity from wind. One weekend in February, it was estimated that Storm Dennis led to almost three-quarters of electricity generated in Ireland being sourced from wind.
Wind remains the dominant source of renewable electricity in Ireland, accounting for 85pc of the total renewables as of 2018, according to the SEAI. Meanwhile, hydropower and biomass are the second and third largest, respectively, by some distance. A total of 33.3pc of electricity came from all combined renewable sources in 2018.
The SEAI recently published a report showing Ireland was below the EU average in terms of the progress each member state had made towards meeting its 2020 targets in 2018, having reached 69pc of the overall 2020 target.
This was the second lowest percentage among member states, with the Netherlands being the lowest at just over 50pc.