Driving winds of change
Published 04/05/2016 | 07:49
In Ireland we live with the wind, it’s a fact of life.
And while we love to complain about it, it’s a valuable resource that if harvested, has the power to change the way we live at home and benefit the planet as a whole.
We all curse the wind when, on a winter morning, it cuts through you like a knife and makes a mockery of your outdoor plans. There are those among us however, who make the most of it. For Francois Colussi, high wind gives him the chance to pursue his passion – kite surfing.
Originally from Northern France, Francois has been harnessing the power of the wind in Ireland in the pursuit of his passion for kite surfing for over decade with his kitesurfing company Pure Magic and has seen his sport grow from specialised adventure sport that hardly any Irish people were aware of to become a part of the Irish landscape. Take a stroll on the beach on any blustery day and you’re bound to see the skyline dotted with kites as surfers take to the air above the choppy seas that crash on our shores.
It’s indicative of the time we live in, that what was once considered a downside to living on an island exposed to the full might of the Atlantic Ocean, wind is now considered an invaluable resource that can help safeguard our future.
Bord na Móna is driving this change. Once associated solely with the harvesting of peat from Ireland’s bogs, the company today is leading the way in a diverse range of renewable energy sectors. Wind power is a large part of their drive to secure a sustainable future for Ireland, like Francois, Bord na Móna has been driving this change for years now.
Bord na Móna established Ireland’s first commercial wind farm on cutaway blanket bog at Bellacorick, Co. Mayo in 1992. As the land is remote, virtually uninhabited blanket bogland used for milled peat production, it was an ideal location for the wind farm. Belleacorick has long since been identified as perhaps the best site for a wind farm in Ireland.
The company owns over 80,000 hectares, located mainly in the Irish Midlands and for the past seven decades, these lands have been used to produce milled peat, mainly for the provision of energy. Many of the peatland areas have now reached the end of their productive life and are available for other uses. These areas are ideally located for renewable energy production like wind and any new forms in the future.
The race is on, energy demands are increasing and environmental issues are at a critical stage. There is something encouraging about how a company, like Bord na Móna, with a decades-long history of the harvesting of peat is changing and is now pointing the way to a sustainable future. Like Francois harnessing the wind, they’ve been involved in this change from an early stage and now they’re driving the winds of change.