Blowing hot and cold on wind power

 

Sir, – Further to Mike de Jong’s letter (June 29th), Mainstream Renewable Power has proposed using wind power generated in Ireland to meet the UK’s need for renewable energy. Ireland has the wind resource and the UK is the customer. This project will create 40,000 jobs here.

The author poses the question, “Has anybody analysed the true economic and environmental cost of the Mainstream Energy Bridge project?” Let’s take the economic cost first. The UK is paying 15 pence (19 cents) per unit of electricity generated from offshore wind. In our model we need to cover the cost of building the wind farms plus the infrastructure to deliver it to the UK. It’s important to note that the cost will not be borne by the Irish consumer – it will come from Irish and international investors. Irish wind farms currently get 7.5 cents per unit of electricity. It ought to be possible for us to deliver renewable electricity to the UK at less than the price they pay for offshore wind. A win-win for both countries.

The 2,000 megawatts (mw) of wind power installed in Ireland reduced the wholesale cost of electricity €74 million last year. In terms of the environmental cost, wind energy makes electricity without releasing CO2.

The UK has legislated that it will close 15,000mw of coal-fired plant by 2022. Before 2020 its chosen strategic option is to replace this coal burn with offshore wind.

Is the author proposing that the UK renege on its contractual commitments and continue to burn coal to generate its electricity? Has he calculated the environmental cost of this option?

It is the UK’s choice whether to have wind turbines on their land, just as its Ireland’s choice to have them on our land. Before any wind turbines are sited in Ireland, Mainstream chooses areas designated by local authorities for wind farms – and Mainstream is required to achieve planning permission to build them.

There is loose talk about Denmark in the letter. As a result of wind energy there, the wholesale price of electricity is lower than if the electricity was made from fossil fuels.

Nobody minds Mr de Jong expressing an opinion. He is quite entitled to do that, but to say that Denmark is exporting wind energy at a financial loss is untrue.

Wind energy always comes at a lower price than fossil-produced energy because the fuel is free.

The author compares property construction with wind turbines. All of the half-finished estates that he refers to were built “on spec” for non-existent customers. The wind energy that Mainstream will put in place has a willing and eager market in the UK.

Pat Rabbitte and his UK counterpart Charles Hendry met last week and have agreed to put a memorandum of understanding in place by the end of the year to make this happen.

The Energy Bridge scheme being proposed by Mainstream is not being done because Ireland is in financial difficulties. Mainstream wants to stop polluting the atmosphere; to bring wealth to the Midlands to replace the jobs lost from the closure of traditional industry; to make profit for Irish investors; and to create a new electricity export industry that by 2020 will realise as much new revenue as our dairy industry. – Yours, etc,

EDDIE O’CONNOR,

Chief Executive,

Mainstream Renewable Power,

Arena House,

Arena Road,

Sandyford, Dublin 18.