Plans for offshore energy
Madam, – Minister for Energy Eamon Ryan has announced (Home News, November 6th) that the Government is seeking approval for a “subsidy which would unlock early investment of €3 billion in three Irish offshore wind farms. The move is the first step in a plan which could see Ireland generating 10 times its electricity needs from offshore wind and marine resources by 2050.” The subsidy guarantees payment of 14 cent per kilowatt hour for electricity generated by wind. It should perhaps be pointed out that this payment is about twice the rate paid to conventional generators. Eventually the price guarantees being given to wind farm operators will come to be seen as every bit as damaging to the economy as the Government’s bank guarantee.
In a separate report (Home News, November 5th) the Minister says that, contrary to generally accepted forecasts, wind energy would be 10 per cent more expensive than fossil fuels, but Ireland’s strong wind resource would ultimately be cheaper. That might be conceivable if wind generation could result in sufficient savings of fossil fuels (mainly natural gas). Unfortunately it is not at all clear that such savings are possible. The intermittency and variability of wind power requires wind farms to be backed up, usually by gas-fired generators that operate much less efficiently than conventional generators. Indeed, related studies indicate that few if any savings would be achievable in terms of CO2 or gas usage.
When the cost of these inefficiencies are added to the inherent expense of wind power, it is clear that this State will continue to have some of the highest electricity prices in Europe for many years to come. – Yours, etc,