Wind energy in Ireland has hit a new milestone, with wind farms providing 35% of the country’s electricity in April, according to Wind Energy Ireland. This is the highest performance ever recorded for the month of April, and an 8% increase from the same period last year. Additionally, the share of demand met rose from 32% to 35% as demand for power continued to rise. For the first four months of 2023, wind energy has met 38% of the country’s power demand.
The data published on Thursday, May 4, also showed that the average wholesale price of electricity fell in April for the fourth consecutive month to €125.57/MWh. This is the lowest monthly average price since June 2021, but still significantly higher than the prices before the current energy crisis began. On days with the most wind power, the average cost of a megawatt-hour of electricity was €108.01, while on days when fossil fuels were the primary source of power, the price rose to €129.29.
Noel Cunniffe, CEO of Wind Energy Ireland, welcomed the continued fall in wholesale electricity prices but highlighted the risk to families and businesses while the country remains dependent on imported fossil fuels. He said that Ireland’s wind farms are reducing the reliance on imported fossil fuels, supporting Irish jobs, and helping to push down wholesale electricity prices while cutting carbon emissions. Cunniffe also noted that more wind farms could be connected to make an even bigger difference. He highlighted the recent closure of the country’s first-ever auction for offshore wind energy and the publication of the terms and conditions for the next onshore renewables auction as significant progress. However, he also noted that the current planning system is delaying the development of more wind energy projects. He called for proper resourcing for An Bord Pleanála, the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), local authorities, and key environmental stakeholders in this year’s budget.
The increase in wind energy production comes as the country faces an energy crisis due to the closure of the Kinsale gas field and the delayed opening of the Corrib gas field. The crisis has resulted in a rise in wholesale electricity prices, which have been passed on to consumers. The government has announced a number of measures to address the crisis, including a €100 million support package for businesses and a €7.5 million fund to support households.
The government has also announced plans to increase the country’s renewable energy target to 70% by 2030. This target is part of the government’s wider Climate Action Plan, which aims to make Ireland a leader in tackling climate change. The plan includes a range of measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including the introduction of a carbon tax, the phasing out of coal-fired power plants, and the promotion of electric vehicles.
Wind Energy Ireland has welcomed the government’s plans and called for more action to be taken to support the development of renewable energy projects. The organization has highlighted the potential for offshore wind energy, which it says could provide up to 30% of the country’s electricity needs by 2030. It has also called for more investment in onshore wind energy, which it says has the potential to provide up to 10% of the country’s electricity needs.
Overall, the increase in wind energy production is a positive development for Ireland, which is aiming to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and tackle climate change. However, more needs to be done to support the development of renewable energy projects and to ensure that consumers benefit from the falling wholesale electricity prices.