Ireland wind energy adds 460 MW in 2019

The Irish wind power sector recorded a record year in 2019 after developers added 463 MW of new wind farm capacity and provided a third of the country’s electricity demand, according to new figures.

The Irish Wind Energy Association’s annual report said the 12-month haul was the industry’s second-best for new connections and the 32.5% share of the power mix is the second-best in Europe.

Some 24 new wind farms were completed bringing the country’s total wind capacity to 4.1 GW.

IWEA chief executive David Connolly said: “Wind energy in Ireland is going from strength to strength. Every year we are cutting more CO2 emissions, reducing Ireland’s dependency on imported fossil fuels and driving down the wholesale price of electricity.

“The two dozen new wind farms we connected last year will enable us to build on our success in 2019 and we have already set new records for the amount of wind energy on the system in the first two months of 2020.”

However, Connolly warned there is growing concern over the amount of lost wind energy, which hit 8% in 2019.

This is due to a practice known as ‘Dispatch Down’ which occurs when transmission system operator Eirgrid instructs a wind farm to produce less electricity or even to shut down entirely due to grid constraints or a 65% limit on wind on the system.

“Eirgrid is a world leader in integrating renewable energy onto the system. Together with ESB Networks they ensure we can operate the system with large volumes of renewable energy, connect new projects and maintain the stability of the grid. But these record levels of dispatch down mean an enormous amount of lost clean energy which must be replaced by fossil fuels,” he said.

“We need a stronger transmission system to ensure that we are not wasting electricity and, if we are to achieve our 2030 targets, and beyond them to 2040 and 2050, then we are going to need a plan to build a stronger electricity grid.”