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Bord Gais opens its first wind farm as part of €400m plan

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ENERGY Minister Pat Rabbitte officially opened Bord Gais Energy's first wind farm in Mullinavat, Co Kilkenny, yesterday.

While the gas and electricity provider has previously acquired wind farms elsewhere in the country, the wind farm in Ballymartin near Mullinavat is the first time the company has built its own wind farm.

Bord Gais intends to develop a further 250 megawatts of wind energy over the next three years as part of a €400m investment.

A second wind farm will become operational in Garracummer, Co Tipperary, later this year.

Bord Gais Energy owns 15pc of the installed wind capacity in Ireland and operates 132 turbines on 13 wind farms in eight counties -- Kerry, Cork, Limerick, Clare, Tipperary, Kilkenny, Donegal and Tyrone. The Government aims to produce 40pc of electricity from renewable sources with eight years.

"Bord Gais Energy's commitment to investing in and developing wind farms means that the company is now one of the largest generators of renewable energy in Ireland," Mr Rabbitte said yesterday.

"In the next three years, Bord Gais Energy will invest a further €400m on renewable energy projects.

"As the structure of the Irish energy market develops, there will be new and bigger market opportunities for our renewable energy sector to engage in.

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"We must ensure that projects such as Ballymartin Wind Farm are encouraged so that Ireland can establish itself as a key renewable energy trading country."

Four government agencies currently compete with one another to provide wind energy -- Bord Gais, the ESB, Bord na Mona and Coillte.

Colm McCarthy's report on potential savings since the economy collapsed criticised the number of state-owned wind farms.

Bord Gais can provide wind-generated energy for 150,000 homes and hopes to raise that figure to 180,000 by the end of the year.

"Long-term investment in the development of Irish wind is a cornerstone of our investment strategy and we will ensure Ireland maximises the benefit of one of its most precious indigenous resources -- the wind," Bord Gais chief executive John Mullins said yesterday.

The ESB said last week that it plans to invest £750m (€915m) to build a new 1,500MW gas-fired power plant in Britain which could start operating in 2018.

The power plant, which will run on modern combined-cycle gas turbine technology, will be on a former chemical works site at Knottingley near Leeds and will require around 1,100 workers during construction and create up 50 permanent jobs once operational.

Plant construction is expected to start in 2015 and Britain's infrastructure planning body said it expected the project's formal application in the first quarter of 2013.

Irish Independent