Element Power to build Tipperary wind farm
ENERGY GROUP Element Power is planning to spend up to €70 million on a new wind-powered electricity project, it emerged at the weekend.
The Irish division of the multinational business announced last month that it plans to invest €8 billion in a series of wind farms in the midlands that will export electricity to Britain.
At the weekend, it confirmed it is going ahead with plans to develop a 36-megawatt (MW) wind farm at Monaincha, Co Tipperary, which it hopes will be close to completion in a year’s time.
Element would not say how much the project is likely to cost. On the basis of an industry rule of thumb that such developments cost about €2 million per MW, it has a €70 million-plus price tag.
The turbines, which form a large part of the investment involved, are likely to cost at least €30 million.
Online trade publication reNews said Element had chosen Nordex as the preferred turbine supplier.
The project will require 15 machines capable of generating 2.4 MW each.
These cost about €900,000 per MW of output, putting the cost at just short of €33 million.
The Monaincha wind farm is designed to supply electricity to the Irish national grid rather than export it to Britain.
Kevin O’Donovan, the company’s chief development officer for Ireland, said energy minister Pat Rabbitte’s recent decision to introduce a new round of supports for green energy had prompted it to move ahead with the project.
“There are a lot of things that you need to have in place for a wind energy project,” he said. “That was one of them, so we decided to go ahead.”
Mr O’Donovan said the turbines the company intends to instal at Monaincha are designed to operate at lower wind speeds than those generally used in Ireland.
“In that respect, they are new technology,” he added.
The project is at the end of the planning stage.
Mr O’Donovan said the company hopes to have the turbines on site in Tipperary in about 12 months’ time.
Last month, Element said it planned to invest €8 billion in Ireland on the back of a deal with the British national grid company National Grid Transmission.
The company proposes building 40 new wind farms in midland counties and channelling the energy to Britain via dedicated underwater cables.
It said this would create 10,000 jobs during the construction phase and 3,000 long-term operational and manufacturing jobs in Ireland and the UK.
Element said it had a deal with the British national grid to take 3,000MW of electricity annually, paving the way for energy exports worth an estimated €1.2 billion a year.
Mr O’Donovan said the company was making “reasonable progress” in identifying suitable sites in the midlands for this project.
Element Power is a multinational backed by US-based Hudson Clean Energy, a private equity firm specialising in sectors such as wind and solar power, which manages $1 billion worth of investments.
It has operations in 14 countries. Businessman Tim Cowhig is chief executive of Element’s Irish division.
Before taking on his current role, Mr Cowhig set up SWS Energy in west Cork and was its chief executive until its sale for €500 million in 2009 to State-owned Bord Gáis.