While wind energy is no stranger to the British Isles, a freshly begun wind energy project in the Green Isle of Ireland aims to shake up the traditional model by which most projects are developed. The slopes of Mount Callan in southwest Ireland will soon be host to 30 wind turbines bringing greater energy independence to the region through the use of a community-wind model.

This new project spearheaded by West Clare Renewable Energy Ltd. (WCRE) is ambitious on several accounts. First, it will stand out as one of Ireland’s largest wind farms in terms of size and energy harnessed. Estimated to cost €200 million (about $300 million USD) to complete, it will create enough energy to power every home and business in County Clare in addition to meeting the Limerick Clare Energy Agency’s 2010 goals for renewable energy production and emissions reduction. Secondly, the turbines themselves are three megawatt models that generate twice as much electricity as the industry standard 1.5 megawatt turbines. These turbines will be constructed across approximately 3,000 acres of land surrounding the mountain owned by 30 farming families who will have a majority shareholding in the project. This last feature is arguably the most intriguing as it shirks traditional wind energy approaches where utilities and corporate developers retain high fractions of the total revenue generated by the project.

The community-wind model embraced by the Mount Callan wind farm will help keep the profits near the region of the farm itself, reenergizing the rural area with new income and additional jobs. Padraig Howard (pictured with his daughter at left), chairman of WCRE and a local entrepreneur, explains how County Clare “now has the potential to become the renewable energy-generating center of Ireland,” adding how the project, if completed, would “create significant environmental benefits, sustainable employment, generate increased incomes for landowners and farmers, and result in reduced energy costs for consumers.”

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