Irish midlands set to supply UK with up to 5,000MW of wind energy from 2017
At the official opening of its new office in Edenderry, Co Offaly Eddie O’Connor’s global wind and solar company Mainstream Renewable Power has unveiled its plans for the 5,000MW “Energy Bridge” wind park in the midlands which will export power to plug the UK’s energy gap starting in 2017. The Company has already invested over €500,000 to secure a grid connection to the UK and has identified 900 eligible landowners in the midlands to site the wind turbines.
Last week Ireland’s Energy Minister Pat Rabitte met with the UK’s Energy and Climate Change Minister Charles Hendry to discuss the opportunity and have agreed to have a Memorandum of Understanding in place by October of this year.
The wind farms and the cables will be completely separate to Ireland’s existing electricity system and will not be paid for by the Irish consumer. All of the cables will be entirely underground so will not be visible at any point. Once fully operational “Energy Bridge” will bring the following benefits:
• €34 million every year in County Council rates.
• 54,000 new jobs in manufacturing, construction and operations & maintenance.
• €2.5 billion every year in export revenue.
• €12 billion in tax revenues over 25 years.
Commenting at the opening in Edenderry Eddie O’Connor said: “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for Ireland and especially the midlands; we’re going to supply the UK with a big chunk of its electricity needs, generating €2.5 billion per annum in revenue which is almost the same as our dairy exports last year.
He continued: Let me stress that this will not be paid for by the Irish consumer but the benefits to Ireland will be enormous. Germany today creates eight direct jobs for each MW installed and then another two to three indirect jobs. We’re talking about 5,000MW so we can realistically create 54,000 new jobs through manufacturing, construction and long-term operations and maintenance.”
Also at the opening, Mainstream’s Development Manager for Ireland Diarmuid Twomey said:
“We’ve spent the past year undertaking analysis to identify the most appropriate areas to site the onshore wind farms. These areas are already designated for wind farm development by the local authority, are in sparsely populated areas and have good wind speeds. We have identified about 900 eligible private landowners, half of which are required to make the project viable. A big advantage for farmers is that the land can continue to be used for farming purposes when the turbines are erected. Animals can continue to graze around them and crops can be sewn right up to the base of the turbine, which occupies less than half an acre. This is an opportunity to generate a very substantial and guaranteed revenue stream over a 25 year period which will have minimal impact on the land, providing an additional revenue to future generations of farmers. There are strict guidelines in terms of where we can site the turbines, only in certain places according to the county development plan. Now that we have our office in Edenderry we’d like to invite people to drop in if they have any questions or even if they just want to know more about wind energy.”