2005. július 26., kedd

Dublin IV: Az ír hiperturbína

Az íreknek nagy fában a fejszéjük, az idén hatalmas, 640 millió eurós energetikai beruházásba kezdenek. A tengerparttól 10 kilométerre levő homokpadra 200 szélturbina épül, melyek 520 megawatt kapacitása várhatóan az ország energiaigényének 10 százalékát fogja fedezni. Ez lesz a világ legnagyobb, megújuló energiaforrást hasznosító erőműve. És nem utolsósorban: a beruházó cég a megtermelt elektromos áramot 10 százalékkal olcsóbban kínálja a hagyományos erőműveknél. (2002)


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Why Windfarms are not a waste of money

Filed Under Polemics, Morality & Politics on October 31, 2005 at 11:23 pm

A post on Mikado a few days ago making out that wind power was some form of conspiracy to destroy our countryside and to make money for large faceless corporations without giving us anything in return has spurred me on to put together an organised argument showing why wind power is a good thing for the world in general and for Ireland in particular.

OK, before I get into the bones of this post I think I should explain my involvement in the wind industry. I am not and have never been an employee of any wind energy company but my father works for one and runs a few and has been involved in the wind industry for quite some time now. He started off developing wind farms part-time in the evenings and was so good at it that he was snapped up by a major European wind turbine company and since then he has been with a number of large wind turbine manufacturers. Because dad is so involved in the wind industry I get to tour many of the wind farms in Ireland at various stages of development and building as well as when they are operational. Also, when dad was still doing this stuff part-time and when I was still in school I used to help him with the development work (which usually involved getting very cold and very wet on a mountain somewhere) from time to time so I have some hands-on experience of the industry too. So, now that you know where I’m coming from we can continue!

There are a lot of common arguments against wind power that you often hear and I will go through them one by one later in this post but I’ll just start by giving you my view of ‘the big picture’. At the moment, we as a society, are heavily dependent on energy and the resources we currently get the majority of that energy from are finite and running out. So something has to give. Either we stop using energy or we start developing other sources of energy that will not run out. Wind is not THE answer but it is part of the answer. There is no one source of energy that could power the whole world, a good energy grid is diverse so that a problem with one source does not cripple the grid. A grid powered by all wind would be ludicrous, as would a grid powered by all solar or all biomass or all hydro or all anything. Basically, diversity in the grid is a good thing and since the wind is totally free and always blowing somewhere in the world it should be tapped as part of our overall energy strategy. Ireland is perfectly placed to tap this resource so it should!

So, what are the common arguments against wind power? Well lets start with the most common one:
Wind farms should be stopped because they are a blight on the landscape are are spoiling the countryside.

Firstly, many people actually LIKE the look of wind turbines! Personally I think there is something very elegant and graceful about them and I think they add to the landscape. There are people who disagree with that though and that is their right. However, these people who think wind turbines are ugly will probably agree that they are less ugly than fossil fuel buring power plants or Nuclear power plants. Also, each turn of those blades is reducing the amount of CO2 we are pumping into the air where as the never ending flow of smoke from the chimneys of fossil fuel burning plants increase our damage to the environment each second they are in operation. Another important point to note is that agricultural life just caries on as normal below wind turbines so they just become a part of the land rather than taking it over like a large fossil fuel or Nuclear plant does. Wind turbines are in tune with the country, large power plants are NOT!

It is fair to say that areas of outstanding natural beauty like the Burren or Glendalough should not be used for wind farms no matter how ideal the conditions. No one with any sense could argue with that. Likewise wind turbines should not be placed in the path of migrating birds or in areas where their foundations would cause major damage to the environment. Luckily the planning service in this country is not so inept as to just grant permission for wind farms willy-nilly, they ensure that environmental impact studies are done and that their recommendations are enforced and that wind farms are built in such a way as to minimise their visual impact.

Finally, the future of large scale wind energy in Ireland is probably off-shore. Turbines that are off-shore are out of the way and except in excellent conditions, out of sight too. They also get steady sustained winds and assuming they are built sensibly and bearing in mind the local geology and ecology they will not harm any one or anything but just give us clean power.

I think the best way to illustrate my views on this point is with some pictures! All the images used in this post are of power plants and wind farms in Ireland (including the North). First I’ll show you some images of fossil fuel burning power plants in Ireland and then some images of Irish wind farms.