Ó Domhnaill Calls for Independent Cost Benefit Analysis of Wind Farms


“Consumers paying millions for when developers don’t make money”


Donegal Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill says that an independent, objective and scientifically based cost benefit analysis of wind farms in Ireland is urgently needed. The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and the Industry itself must not have a lead role in such a review as neither have a record of rigour or objectivity.

The Donegal Senator made the call in the Seanad last night while moving an adjournment debate motion on his proposal.

Speaking in the Seanad, he said; “ Excessive grants, subsidies and tax breaks make wind farms an expensive and inefficient way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions according to a recent study by the Renewable Energy Foundation in England. The Industry admits that up to 30 per cent of the time, turbines are idle because wind speeds are either too low to turn the blades, or too high, risking damage to machines.”

“However, wind energy has proven itself to be very unstable and unpredictable as a source of energy and questions must be asked as to the increasing reliance of Ireland’s energy supply on such an unstable supply. Wind farms in themselves are economically unprofitable and rely on hefty subsidies that ultimately come consumers in the form of rising energy prices.”

“To illustrate this, only 43 MWs of wind energy was produced during the week beginning on 30th September 2013 according to the Commission for Energy Regulation. Yet a new record for wind generation of 1,769 MW was set on 17 December 2013. That is a variation of 1726 MWs on our grid, which represents more than half our energy needs in the Summer.”

“Millions of euro in taxpayer’s money is used to subsidise wind farms in this Country each year. For example, €134.3 million has been paid in curtailment costs, to fund the industry over the past three years when wind isn’t blowing – surely this is not right. Everyone who pays an electricity Bill is paying for this by way of a PSO levy on each Bill.

The question must be asked as to whether we are getting value for this money. I firmly believe that instead of creating wealth for the few under the Government’s Wind Programme a completely objective and scientific assessment of this industry must be undertaken. Such an analysis could be undertaken by a small group of suitably qualified independent technologists, a competent economist and headed by a Chairperson.”

“The response to my call, delivered by Minister of State Paschal Donohue on behalf of Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte was extremely defensive and fell far short of the objectively needed. The Minister said that the cost benefit analysis of the sector would be carried out “in house” by his own Department. I fail to understand why the Minister would not seek the best and most objective advise available before making any major Wind Programme Policy decisions.”

“This is a Minister that has recently undertaken a public consultation process on Pylons and Wind Energy Guidelines. However despite more than 40,000 submissions he kicks to touch making any decision by appointing consultants to provide him with feedback on why the public are against Pylons and Wind Turbines.”

” There is currently a public consultation on wind farm set back distances taking place in County Donegal as part of the review of the County Development plan. I encourage all interested parties to make submissions and have an input into the process concerning the future of wind energy in our County.”

“I believe it’s time for this Government and Minister Rabbitte to listen to the public on the issue.”

Posted: Apr 9, 2014     |     Categories: Uncategorized