Marketwatch: Can Ireland realise its significant wind potential?

All in the Emerald Isle looks rosy from a wind industry perspective – on the surface at least.

Topics
Ben Cook
April 22, 2021
Marketwatch: Can Ireland realise its significant wind potential?
  • 36% of Ireland’s electricity needs are met by wind energy
  • Plans to almost double wind capacity to 8.2GW by 2030
  • But over one million MWh of wind energy is lost annually

All in the Emerald Isle looks rosy from a wind industry perspective – on the surface at least.

Wind energy’s share of electricity demand in Ireland is growing and it now represents more than a third of the total. Figures published by Wind Energy Ireland showed that, in 2020, wind energy represented 36.3% of the country’s electricity demand, up from 32.5% the previous year.

Indeed, the total amount of electricity generated by wind in Ireland reached 10,729,500 MWh in 2020, up an impressive 13% on the previous year.

The total installed wind energy capacity in Ireland at the end of 2020 stood at 4,255 MW.

But the Irish government’s Climate Action Plan (CAP) aims to almost double the amount of installed wind capacity to 8.2GW by 2030 under its strategy to ensure 70% of its electricity comes from renewables by the end of this decade.

And investors have recently taken significant steps to reinforce this sense of optimism. As a result, there is now a clearer idea of where around 3GW of new capacity could come from.

Earlier this month, electricity company ESB confirmed that – in partnership with Equinor – it would develop a 1.4GW floating offshore wind farm off the coast of Counties Clare and Kerry in two phases.

Meanwhile, also this month, Ocean Winds – the joint venture between EDP Renewables (EDPR) and Engie – has revealed proposals for the 1.6GW fixed-foundation Cailleach Offshore Wind Farm in the Irish Sea. The 317sq km site is 13km from the shore at Braehead in County Wicklow and the project is expected to involve around €3bn of investment.

But this is expected to be just the start.

Onshore investment

Indeed, if Ireland’s CAP targets are reached by 2030, KPMG has predicted that Ireland would benefit from investments of €2.7bn in onshore wind alone.

KPMG added that, under such a scenario, the onshore wind sector’s value add could be in the region of €550m annually – across all of its operational and capital activities – in 2030. That would be on top of €400m annually now.

This would include the creation of almost 2,000 extra jobs in the wind power sector and supply chain in the next decade to take the total to around 7,020.

This would mean that the total incomes paid to workers across the supply chain would total €305m in 2030, up from €225m today. The wind industry’s contribution to local authority rates would also double to around €100m.

This is the theory at least. But realising this potential faces a significant stumbling block.

Concern about the amount of wind energy lost every year is increasing. In 2020, around 1.4million MWh of wind-generated electricity was lost, which was more than double the amount lost in 2019, according to Wind Energy Ireland. This represents almost 11.5% of total production and is equivalent to the energy needed to power more than 300,000 homes.

Why is energy being lost? EirGrid, Ireland’s state-owned transmission system operator, is sometimes forced to instruct wind farms to produce less or even cease operations completely because the grid is not strong enough to cope with the volumes of power being produced.

This situation has the effect of further damaging the environment, according to David Connolly, CEO of Wind Energy Ireland. He argues that this lost wind power “must be replaced by fossil fuels – so every time wind farms are turned off, our carbon emissions go up”.

Consequently, Ireland is crying out for a much stronger transmission system. This is especially the case when you consider that ESB and Equinor’s 1.4GW floating offshore wind farm and Ocean Winds’ 1.6GW Cailleach Offshore Windfarm are both in the pipeline.

Yes, EirGrid recently raised the limit on the amount of wind energy allowed into the system, but this doesn't go far enough, according to Connolly. He recently called for more support for “Eirgrid’s efforts to expand and strengthen our electricity grid”.

It’s a convincing argument. Ireland may have some pretty grandiose wind projects planned, but if the country does not have a transmission that is fit for purpose, much of its tremendous wind power potential will sadly go to waste.

  • 36% of Ireland’s electricity needs are met by wind energy
  • Plans to almost double wind capacity to 8.2GW by 2030
  • But over one million MWh of wind energy is lost annually

All in the Emerald Isle looks rosy from a wind industry perspective – on the surface at least.

Wind energy’s share of electricity demand in Ireland is growing and it now represents more than a third of the total. Figures published by Wind Energy Ireland showed that, in 2020, wind energy represented 36.3% of the country’s electricity demand, up from 32.5% the previous year.

Indeed, the total amount of electricity generated by wind in Ireland reached 10,729,500 MWh in 2020, up an impressive 13% on the previous year.

The total installed wind energy capacity in Ireland at the end of 2020 stood at 4,255 MW.

But the Irish government’s Climate Action Plan (CAP) aims to almost double the amount of installed wind capacity to 8.2GW by 2030 under its strategy to ensure 70% of its electricity comes from renewables by the end of this decade.

And investors have recently taken significant steps to reinforce this sense of optimism. As a result, there is now a clearer idea of where around 3GW of new capacity could come from.

Earlier this month, electricity company ESB confirmed that – in partnership with Equinor – it would develop a 1.4GW floating offshore wind farm off the coast of Counties Clare and Kerry in two phases.

Meanwhile, also this month, Ocean Winds – the joint venture between EDP Renewables (EDPR) and Engie – has revealed proposals for the 1.6GW fixed-foundation Cailleach Offshore Wind Farm in the Irish Sea. The 317sq km site is 13km from the shore at Braehead in County Wicklow and the project is expected to involve around €3bn of investment.

But this is expected to be just the start.

Onshore investment

Indeed, if Ireland’s CAP targets are reached by 2030, KPMG has predicted that Ireland would benefit from investments of €2.7bn in onshore wind alone.

KPMG added that, under such a scenario, the onshore wind sector’s value add could be in the region of €550m annually – across all of its operational and capital activities – in 2030. That would be on top of €400m annually now.

This would include the creation of almost 2,000 extra jobs in the wind power sector and supply chain in the next decade to take the total to around 7,020.

This would mean that the total incomes paid to workers across the supply chain would total €305m in 2030, up from €225m today. The wind industry’s contribution to local authority rates would also double to around €100m.

This is the theory at least. But realising this potential faces a significant stumbling block.

Concern about the amount of wind energy lost every year is increasing. In 2020, around 1.4million MWh of wind-generated electricity was lost, which was more than double the amount lost in 2019, according to Wind Energy Ireland. This represents almost 11.5% of total production and is equivalent to the energy needed to power more than 300,000 homes.

Why is energy being lost? EirGrid, Ireland’s state-owned transmission system operator, is sometimes forced to instruct wind farms to produce less or even cease operations completely because the grid is not strong enough to cope with the volumes of power being produced.

This situation has the effect of further damaging the environment, according to David Connolly, CEO of Wind Energy Ireland. He argues that this lost wind power “must be replaced by fossil fuels – so every time wind farms are turned off, our carbon emissions go up”.

Consequently, Ireland is crying out for a much stronger transmission system. This is especially the case when you consider that ESB and Equinor’s 1.4GW floating offshore wind farm and Ocean Winds’ 1.6GW Cailleach Offshore Windfarm are both in the pipeline.

Yes, EirGrid recently raised the limit on the amount of wind energy allowed into the system, but this doesn't go far enough, according to Connolly. He recently called for more support for “Eirgrid’s efforts to expand and strengthen our electricity grid”.

It’s a convincing argument. Ireland may have some pretty grandiose wind projects planned, but if the country does not have a transmission that is fit for purpose, much of its tremendous wind power potential will sadly go to waste.

  • 36% of Ireland’s electricity needs are met by wind energy
  • Plans to almost double wind capacity to 8.2GW by 2030
  • But over one million MWh of wind energy is lost annually

All in the Emerald Isle looks rosy from a wind industry perspective – on the surface at least.

Wind energy’s share of electricity demand in Ireland is growing and it now represents more than a third of the total. Figures published by Wind Energy Ireland showed that, in 2020, wind energy represented 36.3% of the country’s electricity demand, up from 32.5% the previous year.

Indeed, the total amount of electricity generated by wind in Ireland reached 10,729,500 MWh in 2020, up an impressive 13% on the previous year.

The total installed wind energy capacity in Ireland at the end of 2020 stood at 4,255 MW.

But the Irish government’s Climate Action Plan (CAP) aims to almost double the amount of installed wind capacity to 8.2GW by 2030 under its strategy to ensure 70% of its electricity comes from renewables by the end of this decade.

And investors have recently taken significant steps to reinforce this sense of optimism. As a result, there is now a clearer idea of where around 3GW of new capacity could come from.

Earlier this month, electricity company ESB confirmed that – in partnership with Equinor – it would develop a 1.4GW floating offshore wind farm off the coast of Counties Clare and Kerry in two phases.

Meanwhile, also this month, Ocean Winds – the joint venture between EDP Renewables (EDPR) and Engie – has revealed proposals for the 1.6GW fixed-foundation Cailleach Offshore Wind Farm in the Irish Sea. The 317sq km site is 13km from the shore at Braehead in County Wicklow and the project is expected to involve around €3bn of investment.

But this is expected to be just the start.

Onshore investment

Indeed, if Ireland’s CAP targets are reached by 2030, KPMG has predicted that Ireland would benefit from investments of €2.7bn in onshore wind alone.

KPMG added that, under such a scenario, the onshore wind sector’s value add could be in the region of €550m annually – across all of its operational and capital activities – in 2030. That would be on top of €400m annually now.

This would include the creation of almost 2,000 extra jobs in the wind power sector and supply chain in the next decade to take the total to around 7,020.

This would mean that the total incomes paid to workers across the supply chain would total €305m in 2030, up from €225m today. The wind industry’s contribution to local authority rates would also double to around €100m.

This is the theory at least. But realising this potential faces a significant stumbling block.

Concern about the amount of wind energy lost every year is increasing. In 2020, around 1.4million MWh of wind-generated electricity was lost, which was more than double the amount lost in 2019, according to Wind Energy Ireland. This represents almost 11.5% of total production and is equivalent to the energy needed to power more than 300,000 homes.

Why is energy being lost? EirGrid, Ireland’s state-owned transmission system operator, is sometimes forced to instruct wind farms to produce less or even cease operations completely because the grid is not strong enough to cope with the volumes of power being produced.

This situation has the effect of further damaging the environment, according to David Connolly, CEO of Wind Energy Ireland. He argues that this lost wind power “must be replaced by fossil fuels – so every time wind farms are turned off, our carbon emissions go up”.

Consequently, Ireland is crying out for a much stronger transmission system. This is especially the case when you consider that ESB and Equinor’s 1.4GW floating offshore wind farm and Ocean Winds’ 1.6GW Cailleach Offshore Windfarm are both in the pipeline.

Yes, EirGrid recently raised the limit on the amount of wind energy allowed into the system, but this doesn't go far enough, according to Connolly. He recently called for more support for “Eirgrid’s efforts to expand and strengthen our electricity grid”.

It’s a convincing argument. Ireland may have some pretty grandiose wind projects planned, but if the country does not have a transmission that is fit for purpose, much of its tremendous wind power potential will sadly go to waste.

  • 36% of Ireland’s electricity needs are met by wind energy
  • Plans to almost double wind capacity to 8.2GW by 2030
  • But over one million MWh of wind energy is lost annually

All in the Emerald Isle looks rosy from a wind industry perspective – on the surface at least.

Wind energy’s share of electricity demand in Ireland is growing and it now represents more than a third of the total. Figures published by Wind Energy Ireland showed that, in 2020, wind energy represented 36.3% of the country’s electricity demand, up from 32.5% the previous year.

Indeed, the total amount of electricity generated by wind in Ireland reached 10,729,500 MWh in 2020, up an impressive 13% on the previous year.

The total installed wind energy capacity in Ireland at the end of 2020 stood at 4,255 MW.

But the Irish government’s Climate Action Plan (CAP) aims to almost double the amount of installed wind capacity to 8.2GW by 2030 under its strategy to ensure 70% of its electricity comes from renewables by the end of this decade.

And investors have recently taken significant steps to reinforce this sense of optimism. As a result, there is now a clearer idea of where around 3GW of new capacity could come from.

Earlier this month, electricity company ESB confirmed that – in partnership with Equinor – it would develop a 1.4GW floating offshore wind farm off the coast of Counties Clare and Kerry in two phases.

Meanwhile, also this month, Ocean Winds – the joint venture between EDP Renewables (EDPR) and Engie – has revealed proposals for the 1.6GW fixed-foundation Cailleach Offshore Wind Farm in the Irish Sea. The 317sq km site is 13km from the shore at Braehead in County Wicklow and the project is expected to involve around €3bn of investment.

But this is expected to be just the start.

Onshore investment

Indeed, if Ireland’s CAP targets are reached by 2030, KPMG has predicted that Ireland would benefit from investments of €2.7bn in onshore wind alone.

KPMG added that, under such a scenario, the onshore wind sector’s value add could be in the region of €550m annually – across all of its operational and capital activities – in 2030. That would be on top of €400m annually now.

This would include the creation of almost 2,000 extra jobs in the wind power sector and supply chain in the next decade to take the total to around 7,020.

This would mean that the total incomes paid to workers across the supply chain would total €305m in 2030, up from €225m today. The wind industry’s contribution to local authority rates would also double to around €100m.

This is the theory at least. But realising this potential faces a significant stumbling block.

Concern about the amount of wind energy lost every year is increasing. In 2020, around 1.4million MWh of wind-generated electricity was lost, which was more than double the amount lost in 2019, according to Wind Energy Ireland. This represents almost 11.5% of total production and is equivalent to the energy needed to power more than 300,000 homes.

Why is energy being lost? EirGrid, Ireland’s state-owned transmission system operator, is sometimes forced to instruct wind farms to produce less or even cease operations completely because the grid is not strong enough to cope with the volumes of power being produced.

This situation has the effect of further damaging the environment, according to David Connolly, CEO of Wind Energy Ireland. He argues that this lost wind power “must be replaced by fossil fuels – so every time wind farms are turned off, our carbon emissions go up”.

Consequently, Ireland is crying out for a much stronger transmission system. This is especially the case when you consider that ESB and Equinor’s 1.4GW floating offshore wind farm and Ocean Winds’ 1.6GW Cailleach Offshore Windfarm are both in the pipeline.

Yes, EirGrid recently raised the limit on the amount of wind energy allowed into the system, but this doesn't go far enough, according to Connolly. He recently called for more support for “Eirgrid’s efforts to expand and strengthen our electricity grid”.

It’s a convincing argument. Ireland may have some pretty grandiose wind projects planned, but if the country does not have a transmission that is fit for purpose, much of its tremendous wind power potential will sadly go to waste.

  • 36% of Ireland’s electricity needs are met by wind energy
  • Plans to almost double wind capacity to 8.2GW by 2030
  • But over one million MWh of wind energy is lost annually

All in the Emerald Isle looks rosy from a wind industry perspective – on the surface at least.

Wind energy’s share of electricity demand in Ireland is growing and it now represents more than a third of the total. Figures published by Wind Energy Ireland showed that, in 2020, wind energy represented 36.3% of the country’s electricity demand, up from 32.5% the previous year.

Indeed, the total amount of electricity generated by wind in Ireland reached 10,729,500 MWh in 2020, up an impressive 13% on the previous year.

The total installed wind energy capacity in Ireland at the end of 2020 stood at 4,255 MW.

But the Irish government’s Climate Action Plan (CAP) aims to almost double the amount of installed wind capacity to 8.2GW by 2030 under its strategy to ensure 70% of its electricity comes from renewables by the end of this decade.

And investors have recently taken significant steps to reinforce this sense of optimism. As a result, there is now a clearer idea of where around 3GW of new capacity could come from.

Earlier this month, electricity company ESB confirmed that – in partnership with Equinor – it would develop a 1.4GW floating offshore wind farm off the coast of Counties Clare and Kerry in two phases.

Meanwhile, also this month, Ocean Winds – the joint venture between EDP Renewables (EDPR) and Engie – has revealed proposals for the 1.6GW fixed-foundation Cailleach Offshore Wind Farm in the Irish Sea. The 317sq km site is 13km from the shore at Braehead in County Wicklow and the project is expected to involve around €3bn of investment.

But this is expected to be just the start.

Onshore investment

Indeed, if Ireland’s CAP targets are reached by 2030, KPMG has predicted that Ireland would benefit from investments of €2.7bn in onshore wind alone.

KPMG added that, under such a scenario, the onshore wind sector’s value add could be in the region of €550m annually – across all of its operational and capital activities – in 2030. That would be on top of €400m annually now.

This would include the creation of almost 2,000 extra jobs in the wind power sector and supply chain in the next decade to take the total to around 7,020.

This would mean that the total incomes paid to workers across the supply chain would total €305m in 2030, up from €225m today. The wind industry’s contribution to local authority rates would also double to around €100m.

This is the theory at least. But realising this potential faces a significant stumbling block.

Concern about the amount of wind energy lost every year is increasing. In 2020, around 1.4million MWh of wind-generated electricity was lost, which was more than double the amount lost in 2019, according to Wind Energy Ireland. This represents almost 11.5% of total production and is equivalent to the energy needed to power more than 300,000 homes.

Why is energy being lost? EirGrid, Ireland’s state-owned transmission system operator, is sometimes forced to instruct wind farms to produce less or even cease operations completely because the grid is not strong enough to cope with the volumes of power being produced.

This situation has the effect of further damaging the environment, according to David Connolly, CEO of Wind Energy Ireland. He argues that this lost wind power “must be replaced by fossil fuels – so every time wind farms are turned off, our carbon emissions go up”.

Consequently, Ireland is crying out for a much stronger transmission system. This is especially the case when you consider that ESB and Equinor’s 1.4GW floating offshore wind farm and Ocean Winds’ 1.6GW Cailleach Offshore Windfarm are both in the pipeline.

Yes, EirGrid recently raised the limit on the amount of wind energy allowed into the system, but this doesn't go far enough, according to Connolly. He recently called for more support for “Eirgrid’s efforts to expand and strengthen our electricity grid”.

It’s a convincing argument. Ireland may have some pretty grandiose wind projects planned, but if the country does not have a transmission that is fit for purpose, much of its tremendous wind power potential will sadly go to waste.

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Full archive access is available to members only

Not a member yet?

Become a member of the 6,500-strong A Word About Wind community today, and gain access to our premium content, exclusive lead generation and investment opportunities.