Three new wind farms planned for Ireland, totalling 13.6MW

15 Aug 2011

Irish energy storage group Gaelectric is partnering with the Chinese wind turbine manufacturer XEMC Group to co-develop three new wind farms in Ireland, valued at €18m. The two companies have also signed a Letter of Intent to co-develop Gaelectric’s remaining wind energy projects in Ireland and the US.

Chinese XEMC Group is a manufacturer of direct drive permanent magnet generator (PMG) wind turbines. The deal with Gaelectric today signals XEMC’s first commercial deployment of its wind turbines in Europe.

IDA Ireland has called the XEMC and Gaelectric partnership a significant development to help progress Chinese and Irish business co-operation.

XEMC’s XV90 turbines will be installed at three Gaelectric onshore sites: Roosky in Co Roscommon; Leabeg in Co Offaly; and Crowinstown in Westmeath. The combined wind power output of the three wind farms, once built, will be 13.6MW.

The initial co-development project is valued at €18m.

Speaking this morning at a contract signing ceremony with Gaelectric at its headquarters in Dublin, XEMC group chairman Zhou Jianxiong said the “shared focus on innovation in renewable energy technologies” at both companies would make them ideal partners in co-developing Gaelectric’s portfolio of renewable power projects in Ireland and the US.

Looking to offshore wind – Gaelectric/XEMC

Gaelectric CEO Brendan McGrath said the alliance with XEMC was a significant strategic step for the Irish company: “With the backing of XEMC’s industrial strength and technological capacity … we are confident that Gaelectric’s portfolio of wind farm sites will be realised to the highest commercial and technical standards.

“Our visit to China in March of this year confirmed to us XEMC’s commitment to research and development, which combines Dutch engineering design and pedigree with Chinese industrial power. We also share a vision for the significant opportunities from offshore wind energy generation on which we are already working closely together.”

Based in Hunan Province in China, the State-owned XEMC Group itself has been in operation for more than 70 years. Its business segments include electrical mechanics, heavy automotive engineering, ship propulsion systems, electric locomotives for the mining industry, light rail vehicles for public transportation systems, and wind energy technology.

XEMC has 820 of its XE-series turbines installed in China. According to the company, they are the largest turbines in mass production in China.

Because direct drive PMG turbine technology eliminated the requirement for generator gearboxes, it can help reduce weight. XEMC is supporting the further development of this PMG technology with its development of a 5MW turbine for deployment in offshore settings. A prototype of this offshore 5MW turbine has recently been installed at a turbine test centre in the Netherlands.

Headquartered in Dublin, Gaelectric is a privately held renewable energy generation and technology group. The company was set up in 2004 and has significant assets and projects under development in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and North America, where it operates under the brand name Gaelectric North America.

In Montana, Gaelectric is currently developing up to 3,000MW of wind, with its first project of 430MW expected to be commissioned in 2014-2015.

Photo: View of Beacon Power's 20MW flywheel storage plant in Stephentown, New York, which  reached full capacity to supply clean energy to New York state's electricity grid in July 2011

View of Beacon Power’s 20MW flywheel storage plant in Stephentown, New York, which reached full capacity to supply clean energy to New York state’s electricity grid in July 2011

Smart grid and energy storage

Back in May of this year, Gaelectric announced it would be lending its energy storage expertise to Beacon Power, which was building North America’s largest-ever flywheel storage plant in Stephentown in New York state.

Now completed and connected to the New York grid, the 20MW plant operates continuously, and is capable of storing and returning energy to the grid to provide about 10pc of New York’s overall frequency regulation needs.

Future Irish smart grid?

Beacon Power and Gaelectric have also jointly funded an extensive study of the Irish grid under various scenarios of future wind penetration. According to the study, deploying fast-response flywheel technology on a large scale would improve grid stability, reduce wind curtailment and improve the efficiency of the entire Irish grid – resulting in significant monetary and CO2 emissions savings.

Photo: Zhou Jianxiong, XEMC Group chairman, and Brendan McGrath, CEO, Gaelectric, at this morning’s announcement in Dublin that the two companies are to partner to develop three new wind farms in Ireland, as well as completing Gaelectric’s wind-farm portfolio in the US. Gaelectric and XEMC are also in talks about offshore wind technologies

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic