Wind energy ‘ineffective’ at reducing CO2 emissions, group claims

Wind Aware Ireland says Ireland must not be turned into a ‘pin cushion’ for pylons

Wind Aware Ireland (WAI) has called on the Government to reform its “unsustainable” wind energy policy. Photograph: Cyril Byrne /The Irish Times

Non-profit Wind Aware Ireland (WAI) has launched a website calling on the Government to reform its "unsustainable" wind energy policy. WAI argues that wind energy doesn't reduce CO2 emissions "in any meaningful way" and actually makes wind energy more expensive.

“Wind produces little or no energy 70 per cent of time,” said WAI chairperson Henry Fingleton. He argues that after 20 years of investment in wind energy, we’re only saving around 2 per cent on overall fuel imports.

Wind energy also requires a permanent backup called “spinning reserve” which allows gas and coal plants to run in the background in case the wind dies. This further reduces the quantity of saved energy.

Mr Fingleton says energy projects need to be “environmentally, economically and socially” sustainable.


"The current debate has largely focused on community concerns about noisy turbines, reduced property values, damaged landscapes and the health impacts of living close to turbines or pylons, " he said.

“The debate on wind energy must be widened,” he added. “If wind energy is ineffective at reducing CO2, why are we having a conversation about location of turbines and pylons?”

He says the current Government policy, which he calls “shoddy and flawed”, has failed to carry out a proper cost benefit analysis of wind energy initiatives.

Labour Senator John Whelan, who spoke at the website launch, claims the planning guidelines for wind farms have been "kicked to touch" until after the elections.

“This is a developer led project to make a small number of people wealthy at the expense of our tourism, our landscape, our visual amenity and our agri-food sector,” Mr Whelan said.

He added that wind energy is not a midlands or local issue. “It concerns every citizen in this country not to destroy the landscape and turn it into a pin cushion for turbines and pylons.”

According to director of Social Justice Ireland Father Sean Healy, climate change is the "game changer of the 21st century".

"We need genuine engagement and more deliberative democracy, not this pretence that people are being consulted" he said, adding that the Irish Government needs to develop an "integrated and global" approach to the growing problem of climate change.

The Irish Wind Energy Association has expressed concern that the WAI are using inaccurate and selective information to fuel negative misconceptions about wind energy.

“The campaign launched today overlooks the considerable economic and social benefits wind energy development has brought, and will bring, to Ireland, which includes many thousands of jobs,” said Kenneth Matthews, CEO of IWEA.

“Wind energy is by far the best renewable energy source to help Ireland achieve its objectives and the alternatives proposed by anti wind energy groups are simply not viable.”

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak is an Irish Times reporter and cohost of the In the News podcast