Wind farm facts and fictions

Fri, Apr 5, 2013, 05:55

A chara, – Good to see that wind farm “Quixotics” are alive and tilting, and spreading their “truth” to all who will read and listen (April 3rd). Your paper incompletely reported my contribution to a discussion on communications at the Irish Wind Energy Association Conference which was misleading to readers (Home News, March 29th) .

To set the record straight, in a discussion on communication, I made two points. First, the public is not going to be won over by endless facts and figures thrown out in rebuttal to the latest spurious facts about wind farms, and second, the public will become bored and uninterested in a “my facts are better than your facts” debate when the objective of wind farm supporters and developers should not be to win over these opponents, but rather to communicate the societal benefits that wind energy will provide to the wider public.

I also said that where a wind farm is proposed in an area that has already been designated as suitable or open to consideration for wind farm development then visual impact should not be considered in granting planning permission. Unfortunately, this was not reflected in your report.

The planning process as it applies to wind farm developments is both rigorous and detailed, as demonstrated in the length of time it takes to secure planning approval for a wind farm. Responsible developers consult local communities and in most cases are successful in getting up to 80 per cent support as they proceed to build wind farms. In so doing they contribute to the energy security of the State, the economic wellbeing of rural communities, job creation and a sustainable future for this island. These are the facts that the wind energy sector needs to focus on because this is a message the public understands and wind farm “Quixotics” do not want to confront.

The planning process also needs to reflect technological developments in wind energy. As a country with one of the best renewable energy resources in Europe, we need to ensure that we harvest wind energy with the most efficient technology. If we don’t, we will become locked into less efficient, and therefore more expensive, energy generation and supply. The question for communities and planners is fewer and bigger wind turbines, or smaller and more.

Two large defunct chimneys sit in the heart of Dublin bay. For years they spewed out their toxic mix of carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides as they burnt fossil fuels for energy. Today they are regarded as iconic and underpin a view that (argued by some) needs to be preserved. At last week’s conference, I suggested if they were to be replaced with two or more 5MW turbines contributing greenhouse gas-free electricity to a green capital of Ireland they would most probably be disallowed on the grounds of visual impact, a decision likely to be loudly acclaimed by wind farm “Quixotics” throughout the land. – Is mise,


CEO, Gaelectric,

Thorncastle Street,


Dublin 4.