Electricity Supply Board (ESB) plans to build three new wind farms in north Tipperary and Limerick in 2009. This is part of a plan to contribute 600 megawatts (MW) of wind energy to the electricity grid by 2012. The company has also acquired three wind projects totalling 50 MW in Leitrim, Sligo and Tipperary from DP Energy Ireland, a Cork firm. The company already has six operational wind farms and is directing EUR11 billion towards renewables as part of an overall EUR22 billion investment plan.
John Campion, director of sustainable energy at ESB, said the move to renewables was ‘‘not an aspiration, but a necessity for all of us’’, both from a security of supply and carbon emissions point of view.
However, Campion has warned that the transmission lines required for groups of wind farms were being delayed because they were facing objections in the planning process.
Most wind farms are built by private operators, but the ESB is contracted to construct the transmission lines for the projects after they have been approved by the Commission for Energy Regulation and EirGrid, the grid operator. ‘‘The planning process has to be gone through and planning for overhead lines can be difficult,” said Campion.
‘‘We’re actively trying to find solutions to avoid building lines where possible, and we’re working with communities to get them in the most unobtrusive places.” Two 400-kilovolt transmission lines planned for Cavan and Meath have faced public protests, while An Bord Pleanála has rejected plans for a 110-kilovolt line in Connemara.