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Friday, 11 January, 2002, 15:14 GMT
Ireland takes wind power plunge
Minister for Marine and Natural Resources, Frank Fahey (left), with Eddie OConnor, Managing Director of Eirtricity
Ireland expects a bit cut in greenhouse gas emissions
The Irish Government has approved plans for the world's largest offshore electricity-generating wind farm, to be built on a sandbank in the Irish Sea south of Dublin.

Today heralds the dawning of a new age of clean, green energy

Marine Minister Frank Fahey
When completed, the 200 turbines will produce 10% of the country's electricity needs.

The Marine Minister, Frank Fahey, said the 700-million euro ($630m) development would have three times the generating capacity of all current offshore wind farms worldwide.

New farm facts
200 80-metre-tall turbines
520 MW output
10% of Ireland's energy needs
Will cut 13 million tonnes of greenhouse gases
Mr Fahey said the wind farm would do much to help Ireland achieve its targets under the Kyoto Protocol on limiting global warming, cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 13 million tonnes per year.

He said the 80-metre- (260-feet-) tall turbines would be visible from the shore in clear weather but would not detract from the area's scenic beauty.

The plant on the 27-kilometre- (16-mile-) long Arklow sandbank will be built by a private Irish company called Eirtricity. It will be about seven kilometres from the shore at its nearest point.

No objections

"Today heralds the dawning of a new age of clean, green energy, harvested from two plentiful renewable sources, the sea and the wind," said Mr Fahey at a Foreshore Lease signing ceremony in Dublin.

Wind power league table
Germany: 8,000 MW
US: 4,150 MW
Spain: 3,300 MW
Denmark: 2,500 MW
Eirtricity hopes to begin construction work in the Spring, with the first phase of the project, generating 60 megawatts, going into operation in the autumn.

One megawatt of wind-generating capacity typically will satisfy the electricity needs of 350 households in an industrial society, or roughly 1,000 people.

The plant's capacity will ultimately reach 520 megawatts.

The state will receive up to 1.9 million euros ($1.7m) a year from Eirtricity in rentals and royalties.

Mr Fahey said there had been wide public consultation on the plan and no objections. Eight submissions had been received, all of them in favour.

Arklow Bank runs north-south along the coast, with water depths of between five and 25 metres (16-82 feet).

Wind replacing coal

A report published this week said that wind-generated electricity production jumped by 31% last year, making it the most rapidly growing branch of the power industry.

Wind farm
Wind power: Now one of the cheapest forms of energy
The US-based Earth Policy Institute issued figures showing global capacity rising from 17,800 to 23,300 megawatts - enough to satisfy the needs of 23 million people.

Since 1985 the use of coal for power generation has dropped by 9%, while the use of wind has increased by 487%.

US experience shows it is now also one of the cheapest methods of generating electricity, the report says.

In wind electric-generating capacity, Germany leads the world, followed by the US, Spain and Denmark.

The European Wind Energy Association has recently revised its 2010 wind capacity projections for Europe from 40,000 megawatts to 60,000 megawatts.

See also:

12 Nov 01 | UK
Q&A: Wind and wave power
02 Jul 01 | Sci/Tech
Europe discusses wind power
18 Jun 01 | Scotland
Turbines bring wind of change
06 Jan 99 | Sci/Tech
The world turns to wind power
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