Blow for council as wind power fails to light up €20m park
A WIND-powered park next to the abandoned Priory Hall apartment complex is incapable of generating enough spark to keep its lights on.
Built by Dublin City Council at a cost of €20m, Fr Collins Park in Donaghmede, north Dublin, was described as Ireland's first "self-sustaining city park" when it opened in 2009.
Five wind turbines were designed to provide renewable energy for the park's lights, pumps, fountains and maintenance depot.
But a report by BioXL Energy Consultants has found that about three-quarters of the parks electricity will have to be imported this year at a cost of €45,000 plus VAT.
Installation of the turbines cost €1.15m, about double typical commercial costs, according to the report which was issued in January of this year and released under the Freedom of Information Act.
Prior to the development, a feasibility study estimated that 100pc of the park's energy would be met by wind power at peak times, with about 75pc being met on average.
But the new report stated that, even at peak performance, the wind turbines were incapable of meeting the park's electricity needs.
In fact, they produced only €14,000 a year worth of electricity – needing a further €45,000 plus VAT in order to operate – while also devouring about €34,000 a year on maintenance.
"The performance of the turbines has been disappointing... However, the turbines have a strong demonstration and educational value," claimed the report.
There have also been complaints from local residents, who are seeking compensation for nuisance. One told the council that "if any one doesn't know what it's like to live under the constant whining of those cursed turbines, let them try sleeping with a washing machine on in their bedroom at night".
Named after a local priest who helped acquire the land for development, Fr Collins Park has won five awards for architecture and sustainability.
The park is overlooked by the Priory Hall apartment complex, a disastrous development which was given council approval only to be evacuated later on safety grounds.
The wind turbines are maintained by Canadian firm Island Technologies under a five-year inspection and maintenance programme. The cost is approximately €34,000 a year "which is more than any potential revenue from the turbines", according to the report.
A spokesman for Island Technologies said the physical design of the project made maintenance and servicing very difficult. The firm would be willing to negotiate lower cost methods but these would require careful consideration due to safety standards set by the council, the spokesman said.
Dublin City Council did not respond to requests for comment.