By Seán McCárthaigh
The energy regulator has dismissed a report by a group campaigning against the expansion of wind farms, which had questioned the benefits of the country’s growing reliance on wind energy.
The Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) said a report by Wind Aware Ireland (WAI) contained misunderstandings. The CRU had been asked by the Dáil Public Accounts Committee for its observations on the WAI report, which was published last November. It claimed the Government’s energy policy was unsustainable, as at least €1.2bn was being spent on wind farms in Ireland annually, through a levy on consumers, without any proper cost-benefit analysis of its ability to reduce CO2 emissions.
WAI said wind energy was highly expensive and irregular, as well as representing a poor return on investment, when it only reduced Ireland’s CO2 emissions by between 2.6% and 4%.
At the time, there were around 1,400 onshore wind turbines here, with many more at the planning stage.
The report criticised state bodies, including the CRU, for failing to conduct a serious analysis of alternatives for reducing the country’s CO2 emissions.
WAI claimed it was misleading to assess the value of wind energy without calculating the cost of the complex and supporting infrastructure, hidden subsidies and services, which were required to put wind-generated electricity onto the national grid.
The group had called on the Government to suspend all future developments of wind farms, in order to carry out an urgent review of its energy policy to determine the most cost-effective means of de-carbonising the Irish economy.
However, the CRU said: “The central argument of the WAI report is supported by a number of inaccuracies and misunderstandings of the regulatory framework.”
The CRU said it regulated electricity network businesses, Eirgrid, and ESB Networks, and would not advise the Department of Communications, Climate Change, and the Environment to change Ireland’s energy policy.