Picture of Ireland: Where the wind farms are

Sat, Dec 8, 2012, 00:00

The Republic has 148 wind farms, amounting to about 950 turbines with the capacity to power more than a million homes. There are also 22 wind farms in Northern Ireland, mainly in the north and west.

The larger map shows wind-farm clusters in the north-west and south-west of the island; the highest wind speeds are in the mountainous regions of the western seaboard. The largest concentration of wind farms, 32, occurs in Co Donegal; followed by Co Cork with 20 farms.

The Irish Government’s target is for 40 per cent of energy produced in Ireland by 2020 to come from renewable sources. These targets would be achieved primarily from wind and would require about 2,500 new turbines. Planning strategies may be needed to protect our biodiversity and natural landscapes, amid this tripling of the number of turbines.

The Natura 2000 network of European designated nature conservation sites sets strict requirements to ensure wind-energy development doesn’t affect the conservation status of such sites. Seventeen wind farms are located on Natura 2000 sites; eight of these are within the Stacks-Mullaghareirk Mountains, in Cos Kerry, Limerick and Cork (see smaller map).

Studies are under way to assess the effect of these developments on sensitive species, bird migratory patterns and breeding, and bat feeding and flying patterns. Interactions between wind turbines and wildlife are not well understood.

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