Category: Archive

(Wind) power to the people

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

When Marine and Natural Resources Minister Dermot Ahern switched on the turbines last Thursday, it demonstrated the people power of a quarter of a century ago had led to an ecological U-turn.
In the late 1970s, thousands traveled from around the country to free concerts at Carnsore. Singers like Christy Moore, Jackson Browne and Chris de Burgh entertained the muddy rallies/music festivals that were opposed to the nation going nuclear and building the first plant at the most southeasterly tip of Ireland.
At the time, the ESB’s plan was to eventually build four reactors with a capacity of 3,000 megawatts.
The new wind farm has a much more modest output. It will only contribute 12 MW, or enough electricity to power about 10,000 homes. But it is a world away from the original nuclear proposals in “green” energy terms. It will save importing 8,000 tons of fossil fuel a year and prevent 34,000 tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.
In the 1970s, before nuclear power plant accidents like Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, the attitude of the Irish government was that nuclear objectors were Luddites. Today, the government itself is a trenchant anti-nuclear protestor and can make its arguments from outside the nuclear club.
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern describes Britain’s nuclear complex at Sellafield as the greatest single environmental threat to the country.
The ESB chairman, Tadhg O’Donoghue, acknowledged the turnaround in thinking, calling it “a full change from mean to green.”
Dermot Ahern, a minister with a liking for wind surfing and land yachting, also cited the change. “It is fitting that we are opening on this very same site an energy plant that feeds from the air around it, is sustainable and environmentally friendly,” he said.
“Those who stood in the rain during that season of protest at Carnsore in the late 1970s and listened to Chris de Burgh and Christy Moore will today feel doubly vindicated by their stance.”
He said the Carnsore windmills would help the country deliver 578 MWs of new green energy by 2005.
Most of the new energy will come from onshore wind projects but, for the first time, 50 MWs will be generated offshore in what is seen as a major new initiative.
Other green energy generators under the program are landfill gas, small-scale hydro power plants, anaerobic digestion plants and biomass steam cycle CHP.
“It is the government’s intention to have 13.2 percent of total energy consumption from green power by 2010,” the minister said.

Other Articles You Might Like

Sign up to our Daily Newsletter

Click to access the login or register cheese