The rise of wind turbines in Ireland

In Malachy McKenna’s play The Quiet Land, the characters Eamon and Nashee, two elderly farmers, engage in a heated debate over the decline of lawn mowing and the advent of wind turbines. The picturesque mountains of western Ireland, once dotted with men mowing grass, are now home to impressive wind farms. The contrast between old and new is undeniable.

The advantages of wind energy are difficult to ignore. With its constant presence and renewable nature, wind has enormous potential as an energy source. Ireland has embraced wind energy and has 4,309 MW of installed capacity in 2021, the second highest per capita in the world. Wind turbines provided an impressive 36.3% of Ireland’s electricity demand in 2020, demonstrating the significant impact of this technology. Additionally, wind power is Ireland’s largest and cheapest source of renewable electricity and contributed to over 86% of the country’s renewable electricity in 2020.

However, like any technology, wind turbines have their drawbacks. The typical lifespan of a wind turbine is about 25 years and requires regular maintenance every six months. The disposal and recycling of worn turbines also raises environmental concerns. While companies like Ørsted commit to recycling up to 95% of decommissioned turbines, finding sustainable solutions for the remaining 5% remains a priority.

The construction of wind farms also affects the landscape. Miles of roads are needed for infrastructure and maintenance of the turbines, affecting the delicate mountain ecosystem. Despite these challenges, the trade-off between traditional lawn mowing and wind energy generation is becoming clearer.

In the end, the decision to adopt wind turbines reflects the changing dynamics of modern life. While the romantic idea of mowing grass may still be appealing, the reality is that modern life demands new energy solutions. As Ireland strives to meet its growing energy demands and address concerns about climate change, wind energy is emerging as a viable and sustainable option.


Q: What is the current wind energy capacity in Ireland?
A: In 2021, Ireland has 4,309 MW of installed wind energy capacity, the second highest per capita in the world.

Q: What percentage of Ireland’s electricity demand is generated by wind turbines?
A: In 2020, wind turbines generated 36.3% of Ireland’s electricity demand.

Q: How long does it take for a wind turbine to recover the energy used during its manufacturing and installation?
A: The environmental payback period for most wind turbines is between six months and one year.

Q: What is the typical lifespan of a wind turbine?
A: The typical lifespan of a wind turbine is 25 years and routine maintenance is required every six months.

Q: What proportion of a decommissioned wind turbine can be recycled?
A: Companies like Ørsted commit to recycling up to 95% of dismantled wind turbines.

By Daniel Hall