Frequently Asked Questions
Why Onshore wind?
Onshore wind energy provides a clean, sustainable solution to our energy problems. It can be used as an alternative to fossil fuels in generating electricity, without the direct emission of greenhouse gases.
The Irish Government has committed that 80% of all electricity will be generated from renewable sources by 2030 including 8GW from onshore wind, that carbon emissions will be reduced by 51% by 2030, and that the country will achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
In order to meet these targets, Ireland’s National Development Plan 2021 to 2030 states that Ireland will need to almost double its onshore wind generation from 4.1 GW in 2019 to 8 GW by 2030.
The future development of onshore wind is vital to achieving Ireland’s energy strategy, to tackle the challenges of combating climate change while also ensuring a secure electricity and energy supply now and for future generations. Now more than ever, communities want to be a part of a positive change in Ireland’s renewable energy landscape.
Do you need a licence to develop a Onshore wind farm?
Yes, a number of licences and planning permissions are required to develop an onshore wind farm including planning permission from the local county council and a licence from the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU; Ireland’s energy and water utility regulator) to construct the project and its licence to generate electricity.
What surveys must be undertaken before the windfarm can be built?
In order to obtain planning permission, the developer is required to assess the potential environmental effects of the project (aspects of the environment that must be considered include biodiversity, human health, socio-economics). There is a vast array of surveys that are required to inform the assessments including but not limited to:
- Geophysical Surveys: looks at the profile of the soil.
- Geotechnical Surveys: looks at what the soil is made of.
- Wind Resource Monitoring: measures the speed and direction of the wind.
- Baselines surveys which assess the habitat and animals present.
- Bird and Mammal Assessment, with mammals including otter, badger, bat species utilising the area.
- Socio-economic impact.
- Visual impact.
How big will the wind turbines be?
The wind turbine model for this project has not yet been decided but early indications suggest turbines up to 200m tip height with each having an individual power output greater than 5MW.
Will you need to build a substation?
Yes. A substation collects the electricity generated from each of the turbines and transforms the voltage from turbine voltage to export voltage and then exports the power to the grid network. The substation is also an essential component of the wind farm to ensure that the project operates safely and within the requirements of the system operator.
How do you select an area for wind farm development?
There are many factors to consider when choosing an area for a wind farm. Our design team rigorously identifies all environmentally sensitive areas and removes these during the site selection process. These include protected sites such as Special Areas of Conservation, Special Protection Areas, and Natural Heritage Areas.
There are setback distances from properties and rivers to take into consideration. In wind farm development, this is known as a “constraints-led approach,” and is achieved through a desk-based assessments, extensive field surveys and detailed consultation. These comprehensive studies, combined with wind resource data, determine the final location of turbines within any given site.
Are wind turbines noisy?
A wind turbine generates two kinds of noise: aerodynamic noise created when the turbine blades pass through the air; and a mechanical noise caused by the generator in the turbine’s nacelle (the large box at the top of the turbine behind the rotors).
Every effort is made by developers, and by turbine manufacturers, to minimise the amount of noise a wind farm generates, and at all times to operate within noise limits prescribed by the relevant authorities.
When planning a wind farm, extensive studies are carried out to identify the best location for each individual turbine to ensure any potential disruption for local residents is eliminated or kept to an absolute minimum.
Under the 2019 draft wind energy guidelines published by the Irish government, new noise requirements are being proposed compared with the 2006 guidelines. Broadly speaking, as part of this wind farm development, DP Energy will have to maintain noise levels at noise sensitive dwellings under a certain average decibel dB(A) level. DP Energy are monitoring these draft guidelines carefully. For further information on noise, please see the Draft Revised Wind Energy Development Guidelines December 2019.
What is EMF?
EMFs or Electromagnetic Fields occur both naturally (e.g., from the sun) as well as from manmade electrical devices and cables. EMFs are generated by everyday commonly used appliances such as computers, electric blankets, and hairdryers as well as by wind turbines, overhead lines and underground cables and all other forms of electricity generation. There has been extensive research into EMFs, and this has shown that EMFs generated by onshore wind farm cables are not strong enough to harm humans or animals. In addition, by burying the cables, the potential for impact of EMFs is reduced.
What is shadow flicker?
Shadow flicker can occur at certain times of the day, typically when the sun is low in the sky. At these times, the movement of blades can periodically cast momentary shadows through the windows of a home that cause the light to appear to flicker.
Modern turbine technology allows for constant monitoring of the conditions that cause shadow flicker to occur and can therefore control the operation of the turbine to reduce or eliminate any impact.
In practice, if the turbine blades are spinning quite rapidly, it can take one or two minutes for the wind turbine control system to safely shut it down, but it is certainly possible to reduce any shadow flicker to negligible levels.
Who can I talk to for more information, how can I be kept up to date on the project?
Please contact Lisa Enright who is DP Energy’s Onshore Stakeholder and Community Liaison Manager.
Phone: +353 87 634 5691
Email: [email protected]
We would encourage and welcome your input and comments on what you have read. If you would like to be added to our mailing list to receive updates by post or email, please let us know.