In 2012, wind supplied almost one-fifth of Irish electricity. Extensive studies and operational experience have shown that wind generation can safely supply up to 50% of Irish electricity. The relevant reports are publicly available from EirGrid, the national system operator since 1927 (prior to 2001 as ESB National Grid).
I strongly disagree with Mr Martin’s claim that wind energy is “failing to deliver” in Germany, where wind farms are not only delivering a safe and reliable source of electricity, but also proving to be a secure investment for communities and small businesses.
The increase in coal-powered stations in Germany is due to a range of factors, but wind energy is not one of them. Analysis indicates that the main factors are: (a) the German policy of phasing out nuclear power stations; (b) downward trends in European coal prices; and (c) the presence of a domestic coal industry in Germany.
A clean, sustainable supply of energy, together with energy independence, is vital to securing our future. We need renewable energy sources to achieve this — and these must also support the complex technical needs of the electrical grid. Wind energy does fulfil some of these needs, but it is only one part of the solution. Wind, together with hydro, storage, solar, marine, and emerging technologies, needs to be developed and refined — and made accessible to all.
For its part, wind energy has its own strengths and weaknesses. But there is no longer a question as to whether it can be a safe and viable electricity source: experience has proved this, and continues to do so. Rather, the question we must now address is how much wind power is safe and viable, and how, and where, to develop it in the most beneficial and sensitive way?