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Wind-energy firms want shorter planning times to boost electricity output after record May

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A photomontage of the proposed onshore operations hub at Arklow Harbour for the Arklow Bank Wind Farm. Photo: SSE

A photomontage of the proposed onshore operations hub at Arklow Harbour for the Arklow Bank Wind Farm. Photo: SSE

ESB and forestry company Coillte are seeking planning approval for a windfarm of up to 90MW on the Inishowen peninsula in Co Donegal

ESB and forestry company Coillte are seeking planning approval for a windfarm of up to 90MW on the Inishowen peninsula in Co Donegal

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A photomontage of the proposed onshore operations hub at Arklow Harbour for the Arklow Bank Wind Farm. Photo: SSE

Wind energy provided 34pc of Ireland’s electricity needs last month, the highest figure on record for May, according to industry group Wind Energy Ireland. It compares to just 9pc in May last year.

But the chief executive of the lobby group, Noel Cunniffe, has warned that delays in the planning system are slowing the pace at which new wind farm developments are being connected to the national grid.

The delays come as the energy crisis continues to significantly impact consumers and as Ireland struggles to meet a target of generating at least 70pc of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

An Bord Pleanála has a statutory timeframe to decide applications for wind energy projects in 18 weeks. However, the average time for a decision is over a year, according to Wind Energy Ireland.

“Our planning system must be urgently reformed and properly resourced to ensure that the renewable energy projects needed to cut our carbon emissions and drive down electricity bills can get built as quickly as possible,” said Mr Cunniffe.

During the first five months of 2022, Irish wind farms provided 37pc of the country’s electricity.

“Irish wind farms have delivered enormous amounts of clean energy over the first five months of the year, cutting our carbon emissions and helping to insulate Irish consumers from our dependence on expensive imported gas,” said Mr Cunniffe.

He said that with new wind and solar farms being connected to the grid this year, the reliance on fossil fuels will decrease further.

Data from EirGrid, the semi-state company that manages Ireland’s electricity grid, shows that over the past month, renewables provided just over 34pc of the country’s electricity needs, while gas accounted for just under 55pc. Coal accounted for just over 5pc.

A significant number of offshore wind energy projects are planned in Ireland. The large-scale projects would be used to generate electricity for the grid and to power facilities that will manufacture green hydrogen.

The projects will cost billions of euro to develop.

Last week, SSE Renewables submitted an application for phase two of the Arklow Bank Wind Park. The planned wind farm, about 13km from the Co Wicklow coast, is expected to be able to generate up to 800MW of electricity.

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