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Wind Energy in Ireland

2020 wind energy numbers

Wind energy deployment, to meet national targets, continued in 2020, albeit at a lower rate due to a changeover in support schemes. The implementation of Climate Action Plan measures to achieve ambitious 2030 targets ramped up, including measures facilitating the offshore wind sector. The new Government brought increased climate and renewable energy ambitions, particularly for offshore wind.

SEAI formed the Irish Wind Energy Research Network in 2017. The network aims to connect and provide continuity to research projects, as well as inform national wind energy research strategy.

Visit the Irish Wind Energy Research Network webpage, and please review Ireland’s chapter in the IEA Wind TCP 2020 Annual Report.

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Megawatt

Total wind power capacity is 4,300 MW.
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Megawatt

Wind power capacity in Ireland increased by 125 MW in 2020.
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Terawatt-time

Ireland produces 11.55 TWh from wind energy, which accounts for 36,1% of the country’s electricity consumption.

National Targets

Ireland had a target of meeting 40% of electricity demand from renewable sources in 2020. The 2019 Climate Action Plan set a new 70% renewable electricity target for 2030, with the major contributions coming from onshore and offshore wind energy. In June 2020 the new coalition Government published its Programme for Government with enhanced 2030 climate change objectives, including increasing the 2030 offshore wind energy target from 3500MW to 5000MW.

A consultation on proposed new Wind Energy Development Guidelines closed in February 2020 and the final guidance is awaited. A final decision on Stage 2 of the Enduring Connection Process (ECP-2) was published in June 2020, this proposed processing 3 batches of 115 generator connections each from 2020 to 2022.

The first auction of the new Renewable Electricity Support Scheme was held in 2020 with wind energy projects totaling 479MW awarded contracts. Further auctions are planned, with the first offshore wind auction scheduled for 2021.

Progress & Operational Details

Deployment slowed in 2020, with 125 MW of new wind farms being added to bring the total installed capacity to 4300 MW. This slowdown was expected as projects qualifying for support under the REFIT II scheme had a completion deadline of March 2020. No large projects were completed in 2020.

Wind energy met 36% of electricity demand and provided over 86% of renewable electricity supply. While 42% of electricity demand was met from renewable sources in 2020, after statistical normalization, 39% of the planned 40% renewable electricity contribution to the overall 16% EU 2020 renewable energy target for Ireland was achieved.

The average capacity factor of wind farms in Ireland in 2020 was 30%, higher than in previous years. High wind energy production and sporadic reductions in electricity demand due to COVID 19, primarily underlie the increase in “dispatch down” in 2020.

Average Prices were 74.08 €/MWh for the All Projects category which comprised both wind and solar projects, 72.92 €/MWh for the dedicated Solar category and 104.15 €/MWh for the Community category, which also comprised both wind and solar projects.

National RDD Priorities and Budget

National energy research priorities, including those for wind energy, as detailed in the 2016 Report of the Energy Research Strategy Group, were reported upon in the 2016 IEA Wind Annual report. High level Government national research priorities for 2018 to 2023 include mention of wind energy. The 2019 Climate Action Plan includes Action 26: “Support the ocean energy research, development and demonstration pathway for emerging marine technologies (wave, tidal, floating wind) and associated test infrastructure.”

There is no budget specifically allocated to wind energy research and this is funded from general energy and other research budgets.

SEAI operates the government Sustainable Energy R,D&D scheme, there was no call for proposals in 2020 but substantial funding was secured for a 2021 call.

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