Wind energy essential for Ireland’s future, but communities must benefit

By John Arnold

By John Arnold

We in GEAI have published our position paper on Wind Energy with some controversial conclusions. Our main position is that “The development of wind energy is an essential part of the development of low-carbon energy generation in Ireland but such development must have genuine benefits for and buy-in from the Irish people.”

Our EVS volunteer and researcher Irina Tiugan explains, “We fully support wind energy development, on-shore and off-shore, but not the approach that has been taken so far to such developments; communities must be at the core of the planning process. If communities are involved in wind energy projects, they have more chance of success. In Germany, France and Scotland, we have seen that the involvement of the community in the development process has led to general acceptance and a faster implementation of the project. In other words, if people genuinely benefit from local wind energy projects, opposition to them is far less.”

The potential of wind energy to contribute to creation of a low-carbon Ireland is huge. Ireland is the second windiest country in Europe after Scotland, and it has a great potential for wind power. At present, wind produces less than 20% of Irish electricity consumption while the country spends billions every year importing fossil fuels.

GEAI fully supports and encourages community ownership of wind energy projects and small neighbourhood wind energy projects.  “Many studies show that if people have buy-in they will accept wind energy development”, said Irina.

We encourage Government to move effectively towards a collaborative planning approach in the development of wind energy as a national resource owned by and benefiting the Irish people. “With this Position Paper we want to contribute to a scientific-based debate around wind energy in Ireland, as well as to help in building a  sustainable, low-carbon and fair country,” Irina concluded.

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