Category Archives: 2015

Irish government modelling of wind energy potential

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Today, 16 January 2017, almost four years on from the first public call for submissions on the proposed revision of the 2006 wind energy guidelines, we are sharing information in relation to modelling undertaken by the RPS Group, in 2015, which was commissioned by the Sustainable Authority of Ireland (SEAI) for the then Department of Communications Energy and Natural Resources (now the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment) and the then Department of Environment, Community and Local Government (now the department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government).

RPS were commissioned to model Ireland’s land area and power generating potential from wind energy developments, taking into account a number of variable factors including:

  • Turbine size, type and hub/tip height;
  • Noise and shadow flicker;
  • Proposed setback distances;
  • Minimum wind speeds;
  • Terrain contours; and
  • Ground factors.

The background to this modelling was the proposed technical revision to the Wind Energy Development Guidelines 2006. As regular readers of this blog will be aware the proposed technical revision has turned into a political hot potato with no Minister yet willing to stand up to the wind industry, despite the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment declaring that the current guidelines are ‘not fit for purpose’. The proposed Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and further consultation have still not been commenced.

Nevertheless, the discussion in the RPS Group, Report on Wind Turbine Noise Modelling, of 11 May 2015 is startling for most communities, as RPS through consultations with the wind industry expect tip heights of between 150m to 175m to be the norm for future developments, with 200m tip heights being required for some low wind sites.  Possible setback distances emerging from the acoustic modelling are also quiet frightening (see copy of table 3.2 below).

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Documents, in PDF, we are sharing are:

Further iterations of the modeling then followed which were also released:

Please note these documents were shared with us by a friend of this blog, who gained access to them under the Access to Environmental Information Regulations.  Access was only granted following a number of Appeals to the Commissioner for Environmental Information; with the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, further delaying release for three months despite the Commissioners decision.  We are heartened that the Commissioner in deciding that these documents should be released stated:

In my opinion, it is at least possible that disclosure of the withheld information would help the public to scrutinise the reasons put forward by politicians in delaying this important policy decision.  I therefore accept that this public interest argument would favour disclosure now, before a decision is made.

… if disclosure were to lead to a submission being made to the Department which was of such import that it could not be ignored, such a submission would appear to be highly important and very much in the public interest. There is a strong public interest in making the decision [in relation to the revised guidelines] as soon as possible, but there is also a strong public interest in getting it right.
For these reasons I am not persuaded that disclosure would be contrary to the public interest. As that is my conclusion, I must find that refusal to provide access to the withheld information is not justified on this ground.

With the Commissioners words ringing in our ears we are calling on our readers and followers to review, scrutinise and find flaws in the reasons relied upon by your politicians and policy makers.

We are also welcoming guest blogs on this issue and if any of you out there want to provide some much needed technical analysis of these documents and to publish on this blog (or to make a valuable submission to the Minister), please e-mail us at: cawt.donegal@gmail.com.


Donegal wind farm planning details in 2015

FWPM and Wind Farm Zones Dongeal 2013

For the first year since we began keeping these records, in 2012, the number of wind turbines granted permission in county Donegal (11) was lower than the number refused (32).  This is a significant change in the trend for such decisions; with the total number of turbines refused permission in 2015 (32) being just one less the the combined total (33) of refusals for the three prior years 2012-2014.

Wind turbine permissions for Donegal, per year

Decision

2012

2013 2014 2015

Granted

87 67 94

11

Refused

5

7 19

32

Withdrawn

1 4

On reviewing the figures for 2012 -2015 the question does arise as to why there is such a steep decline in permissions granted in 2015.  It is clear that public opinion has turned against wind farms in Donegal.  The proposed variation to the County Development Plan in 2014 to set a 10 times height setback and dezone fresh water pearl mussel catchements from wind farm development achieved 3,326 public submissions in its favour.  County Councillors backed this variation only to see the Minister issue a direction to reverse it but this has been appealed to the high court by former Chairman Cllr. John Campbell and awaits hearing – scheduled for June 2016.  As we commented before this legal stand-off leave considerable uncertainty for planners and developers; this may be the cause of the drop in permissions in 2015.

The other contributory factor is the ongoing delays at An Bord Pleanála with 81 wind turbines across 4 cases, relating to Donegal, awaiting decision for very considerable periods of time.  While the delays at An Bord Pleanála relate in the main to other legal issues the uncertainty in relation to the Donegal County Development plan and zoning is another legal lacuna which faces the Board.

Detail in relation to wind farm and anciallry development decisions

There were a total of 18 planning applications, dealing with wind farms and ancillary developments in Donegal concluded during 2015.  Of these applications two were withdrawn.  The high-level figures indicate that in 2015 with respect to Donegal, permission was granted for 11 turbines and refused for 32 turbines.  Of the 11 turbine permissions two were height amendments and six were extensions of duration, leaving just four new permissions being granted during 2015.  Permission was also granted for two 110kv substations, an access route, lightning poles for a substation and 1km of 33kv underground cabling.

Note: current live applications for wind farms and ancillary developments in Donegal can be found here, and a link to the wind turbine planning permissions in 2014 are here.

Table of decisions concluded in 2015

Name

Location Turbines Reference no. Type of App. Status

Decision Date

Altnagapple Wind Farm Ltd Ardara 13 DCC: 15/50265

ABP: PL05E.244918

Full PP REFUSED

30 April 2015

22 September 2015

Aught Wind Farm Ltd Trillick Aught 1km of 33kv u/g cable DCC: 15/50070 Full PP GRANTED 23 March 2015
Clogheravaddy Wind Farm Ltd Frosses 7 DCC: 14/51305

ABP: appeal ongoing

Full PP REFUSED 8 January 2015
Corvin Wind Limited

Bauville

Buncrana

2 DCC: 14/51295 Full PP GRANT = 1

REFUSED = 1

6 January 2015
Corvin Wind Limited

Bauville

Buncrana

1 DCC: 15/50117 Full PP GRANTED 26 March 2015
Declan Clarke

Crockbrackhill

Moville

2 DCC: 14/51367

ABP: PL05E.244481

Amend height GRANTED

22 January 2015

23 June 2015

Derrykillew Community Windfarm Ltd

Derrykillew

Ballyshannon

5 DCC: 14/51400

ABP: appeal ongoing

Full PP REFUSED 10 June 2015
Eamonn McElhinney

Liskeeran

Stranorlar

1 DCC: 15/50407 Ext. of time GRANTED 14 May 2015
Eamonn McElhinney Liskeeran

Stranorlar

1 DCC: 15/50406 Ext. of time GRANTED 14 May 2015
ESB

Meenacahan

Inver

110kv

substation

DCC: 15/50397 Full PP GRANTED 21 May 2015
ESB

Listillion

Letterkenny

110kv substation DCC: 15/50249 Alterations GRANTED 23 April 2015
ESB Networks & EirGrid

Binbane – Letterkenny

& Tievbrack

110kV line

& station

ABP: PL05.VC0071 Pre-app.

Consultation

WITHDRAWN 21 May 2015
Patrick Bonnar

Garvegort windfarm

Garvegort, Glebe

Ardara

4 DCC: 15/50054 Ext of time GRANTED 7 May 2015
GTBC

Aideen Brett

Meenhore

Grousehall

2 DCC: 14/51419 Full PP REFUSED 5 February 2015
Killin Hill Windfarm Ltd

Meenagranoge

Inver

Access route DCC: 15/51088 Full PP GRANTED 8 October 2015
Michael O’Donnell

Carricknamohill

Killybegs

1 DCC: 15/50047 Full PP GRANTED 25 June 2015
Power & Energy Holdings

Clogher Substation

Cullinaboy

Lightning Poles DCC: 15/50765 Full PP GRANTED 24 July 2015
proVento Ireland PLC

Tullylinn

Pettigoe

4 DCC: 13/51404 Full PP REFUSED 10 September 2015

Wind farms at An Bord Pleanála during 2015

An Bord Pleanála Logo

As followers of our Twitter account will be aware we provide a weekly update on the number of turbines granted and refused on appeal by An Bord Pleanála.  Since 2014 we also began recording the number of turbines placed on appeal or applied for and subsequently withdrawn.   The purpose of this blog post is to give our readers the detail of An Bord Pleanála’s wind farm activity for 2015 and to provide a high level comparison between the last three years.  An Bord Pleanála’s list of weekly decided cases is published online and can be found here.

Outcome 2013 2014 2015
Granted 164 120 10
Refused 117 76 115
Withdrawn 0 5 19
Total Turbines  281 201 144

The most notable trend in the table above is the clear halt placed on granting wind turbine planning permissions during 2015.  The two prior years saw a grant/refuse ration of 3/2 – for every three turbines granted permission two would be refused – but 2015 saw the number of permissions granted collapse to only ten turbines, across 5 planning applications.

As we noted in our review of wind farms in the Irish courts during 2015, “we believe this is due to the fact that An Bord Pleanála is in a state of near paralysis when it comes to wind farm applications, with very significant delays the norm (in July 446 turbines were awaiting a decision).”  Those opposed to wind farms are very organised and more often than not shall bring court challenges to An Bord Pleanála decisions.  Of the 120 turbines granted permission in 2014 almost 75%, 89 turbines, were challenged in the courts.  Significant judgments such as O Grianna & ors -v- An Bord Pleanála [2014] IEHC 632 and others have helped to clarify significant weaknesses in An Bord Pleanála assessment of wind farm applications and forced the Board to revise their flawed processes, thus lengthening the period for decisions.

As an example a 16 turbine wind farm which Galetech first applied to Roscommon County Council for planning permission in 2010, was subsequently appealed to An Bord Pleanála in 2011, was subject of High Court hearings in 2013, and judgments in 2014 (here and here) this wind farm planning appeal still remains undecided by An Bord Pleanála in January 2016.  This example is not alone see our previous blog on such delays.

As is clear 2015 was the year An Bord Pleanála failed to grant permission for any wind farm of scale.  There are many out there who hope this trend continues for many years to come.  Whatever the underlying reason there remains a significant number of turbines awaiting decision and until those decisions are made many communities remains under threat from the lack of mandatory setbacks between homes and turbines.

As promised we have set out below the detail of wind turbine decisions during 2015.  These are divided into the following groups for ease of reference:

  • Those granted permission
  • Those refused permission
  • Those withdrawn
  • Other decisions of interest

Those granted permission during 2015 by An Bord Pleanála

Case No County No. of Turbines Date
243776: Cloggagh, Ballyjamesduff, Co. Cavan (14/103) Cavan 1 16/01/2015
243964: Kilcarrig, Bagenalstown, Co. Carlow. (13/322) Carlow 1 18/02/2015
244753: Co. Donegal. (15/50117) Donegal 1 24/09/2015
244481: Crockbrack Hill, Carrowbeg and Meenletterbale, Moville, Co.Donegal (14/51367) Donegal 2 23/06/2015
244903: Pollaghoole, Ballaghanoher, Ross, Clondallow, Co. Offaly. (15/44) Offaly 5 21/10/2015

Those refused permission during 2015 by An Bord Pleanála

Case No

County No. of Turbines

Date

244147: Cronaliegh, Kildavin, Co. Carlow (14/81)

Carlow

1

02/04/2015

242819: Proctor and Gamble, Coolaholloga, Nenagh, Co. Tipperary. (13/510334)

Tipperary

1

28/04/2015

244388: Hilltop Farm, Turbeagh, Mitchelstown, Co. Cork. (14/05573)

Cork

1

12/05/2015

PA0031: Proposed Cluddaun Wind Farm and associated works, Mayo

Mayo

48

18/05/2015

243479: Rathconnor, Four Mile House, Co. Roscommon. (PD13/78)

Roscommon

2

15/06/2015

244357: Cregg, College and Rathgillen Townlands, Nobber, Co. Meath (KA14/0921)

Meath

6

19/06/2015

244088: Carrowmore South, Einagh and Shragh, Doonbeg, Co. Clare. (14/487)

Clare

9

02/07/2015

244918: Altnagapple, Meentanadea and Mulmosog, Co. Donegal. (15/50265)

Donegal

13

22/09/2015

244723: Loughbrattoge, Doocharn and Tullynageer, Co. Monaghan. (14/46)

Monaghan

5

30/11/2015

PA0031: Ardderroo Windfarm Limited, Galway

Galway

29

21/12/2015

Those ‘withdrawn’ before a decision was reached during 2015

Case No

County No. of Turbines

Date

243851: Bahaga, Cappagh, Foildarg, Oldcastle, Cappaghwhite, Co. Tipperary. (13/210)

Tipperary

18

26/02/2015

245670: Rathclarish, Carrick-On-Suir, Co. Tipperary (15/600699)

Tipperary

1

05/11/2015

Other decisions of interest

In January An Bord Pleanála decided that a 10kv overhead line to a wind farm from a consented development is development and is exempted development.

In March the Board decided that a 47 turbine wind farm proposed in five clusters located in north County Kildare (45 turbines) and south County Meath (2 turbines) is a project that qualifies for application under the Strategic Infrastructure Development (SID) process.

In April a referral in relation to Lisdowney wind farm of whether the construction of a 20KV electrical connection between the consented windfarm ( 12/172) and existing ESB substation is or is not development or is or is not exempted development was withdrawn

In May ESB Networks and EirGrid withdrew an SID pre-application in relation to amendments to the Donegal 110kv project, including the relocation of a switching station from Tievebrack to Drumnalough, and the extension and amendment to the Ardnagappary to Drumnalough line.  It is clear agreement was reached between the Board and the applicants and a revised application lodged later in 2015.

During the year An Bord Pleanála concluded a number of cases/referrals in relation to the Kilvinane wind farm; see leave to apply for substitute consent granted in Aprilleave to apply for substitute consent granted in April, decision to permit a pre-application consultation meeting.  The substitute consent was applied for late in 2015 and awaits a decision.

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Last updated: 16 January 2016

We are aware that on such a long blogpost we may have made some errors, or inadvertently omitted a case or certain relevant information.  If we have please let us know by emailing: cawt.donegal@gmail.com or via twitter@CAWT_Donegal.

 

 

 


Irish wind output lows of 2015

2015 wind low output

As 2015 begins to fade into the memory the media will be full of lists of the “highs and lows” from the year.  Last year our report of the Irish wind output lows for 2014 was one of the most read posts on our blog so here are the lows for 2015 (ROI).

As with last year our print media only seem capable of reporting on wind output highs – no doubt the data is churned out of the Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA) PR department, see for example Stormy Week Sees Wind Energy Hit Record Generation (PDF).  In order to provide a little balance set out below is a table of the lowest wind output recorded, for the Republic of Ireland, in each of the last twelve months.  The lowest recorded being periods in August, September and October when wind output was at a sustained level of just 1MW (all figures were sourced from EirGrid information webpage).

Month Output Low Date & Time
January 16MW 22/01/2015 01:30
February 5MW 10/02/2015 07:00
March 3MW 18/03/2015 03:45
April 5MW 07/04/2015 09:30
May 14MW 07/05/2015 07:30
June 6MW 23/06/2015 09:00
July 3MW 01/07/2015 10:00
August 1MW 18/08/2015 09:30
September 1MW 07/09/2015 07:45
October 1MW 03/10/2015 15:30
November 11MW 04/11/2015 04:45
December 20MW 26/12/2015 10:30

For some context for readers in relation to the output figures, according to IWEA the island of Ireland has 233 wind farms (199 in ROI) with an installed capacity of 3,042MW (2,400 in ROI).   Demand on the island of Ireland fluctuates between 2,600MW – 6,100MW but reached a high of 6,878MW in December 2010.  It is clear therefore that wind energy outputs of between 1MW – 20MW (ROI) represent a very poor return for the Republic’s 2,400MW installed capacity.

So, the next time you read an IWEA inspired “record Irish wind output” story check back to this page and visit EirGrid’s information page to confirm that despite the spin, the energy produced by wind turbines is unpredictable, intermittent and totally dependent on the backup of conventional fossil fuelled power plants such as those fuelled by gas, oil, coal or peat.


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