Blowing cold on wind power
Sir, – I note your report that Mainstream Renewable Power plans to export billions of euros of wind energy to the United Kingdom (Business+Commercial Property, June 27th). The company has identified 900 landowners in the Midlands with sites for placing wind turbines.
While exporting wind energy seems like a wonderful get-rich scheme for Ireland, has anybody analysed the true economic and environmental cost of such a scheme?
Recently, more than 100 British MPs wrote to David Cameron requesting that the UK reign in its wind energy plans. Vocal rural communities had told their MPs they did not want their natural landscapes desecrated by wind turbines.
As a result the British chancellor, George Osborne, has stated that he intends to cut the subsidies to wind farms. He has also said that the subsidies make wind energy too expensive.
This begs the question how the British government is going to afford wind energy exported from Ireland? With the additional costs of hundreds of miles of underground cables, our wind energy will not come cheap. Could we end up subsidising British Energy with our existing range of Irish wind energy subsidies?
Rural communities in Britain don’t want wind turbines on their land. A convenient solution for their government is to site turbines in a neighbouring country prepared to put up with the noise and visual disturbance associated with wind farms.
In truth, because of our financial difficulties, are we allowing Ireland to be treated like a third world country, where our natural landscapes are plundered to produce energy for our much larger neighbour?
We also have to look at what is happening in the rest of Europe. Denmark, with the most wind-produced energy in Europe, is exporting its excess wind energy to neighbouring countries at a financial loss.
Most of the time when the wind is blowing in Denmark the wind is blowing at the same time in its neighbouring countries. Its neighbours do not want Danish wind- produced electricity when their own wind turbines are producing more than enough electricity, unless the Danish Energy comes at a discounted price.
Will this situation also apply to Ireland in relation to the United Kingdom?
We were charmed in the Celtic Tiger years by the get-rich schemes of property developers. This has led to half-finished estates decaying in once pretty villages. When eminent economists such as Colm McCarthy predict a possible “Nama” in wind turbines, it is time to stop and think. Let’s not, this time, get carried away with ourselves. – Yours, etc,