Irish wind farms had a strong start to the year, providing 41 per cent of the country’s electricity in January, a new record for the month.
The figure was up 9 per cent on January 2022, but the industry warned delays in the planning system were slowing delivery of new wind farms.
Wind farms produced 1,479 gigawatt-hours of electricity last month, up 200 GWh on the previous January best, and the seventh best month on record for wind power. This is equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of around 320,000 Irish families.
Wind Energy Ireland chief executive Noel Cunniffe said: “This is a very strong start to the year, and builds on a strong final quarter of 2022 when wind energy was Ireland’s number one source of electricity.”
However, he highlighted the need to accelerate delivery of new wind farms backed by increased Government investment in the planning system. Projects were spending more than a year waiting for decisions on applications for planning permission, he noted.
“We have no hope of reaching our 2030 targets without a functioning planning system, and to do that we urgently need to see massive investment in An Bord Pleanála, the National Parks & Wildlife Service and key environmental NGOs to ensure applications can be quickly assessed and decided on,” Mr Cunniffe said. “The pipeline of projects is there, the investment is there, but everything is slowed down by an under-resourced planning system that is completely unfit for purpose.”
The average wholesale price of electricity in January was €162.16 – down more than €100 from December’s average of €276.52 – but still far higher than before the fossil fuel energy crisis. Prices fell even further on days with the most wind power when the average cost of a megawatt-hour of electricity was €133.69, rising to €196.41 on days where we had to rely on fossil fuels.
“Irish wind farms protect consumers every day by pushing expensive gas generators off the system and reducing our dependency on imported fossil fuels,” Mr Cunniffe said, “But our families, communities and businesses will remain vulnerable to extreme electricity prices while we are forced to depend on imported fossil fuels.”
He said the quicker wind farms were built with reinforcement of the electricity grid, “the more we can do to help consumers”.
The wind generation figures are based on EirGrid’s SCADA data compiled by MullanGrid and on market data provided by ElectroRoute.