New target to dramatically increase Offaly wind energy output in coming years
ELECTRICITY generation from wind will increase four-fold in Offaly in the next six years, according to a new target being considered by the County Council.
There are currently 34 turbines across three wind farms in the county with a combined maximum output of 98.5MW.
But acting on a requirement from the Office of the Planning Regulator (OPR) to indicate how the Offaly county development plan 2021-2027 will contribute to realising overall national targets on renewable energy and climate change mitigation, a target of 466.3MW has been fixed by council chief executive Anna Marie Delaney.
The OPR made specific reference to wind energy production and asked for an indicative target in megawatts.
One wind farm, the Bord na Mona facility at Mountlucas, accounts for the majority of Offaly's current output, with its 28 turbines capable of generating a maximum 84MW.
The wind farm at Leabeg (Boora) has two (4.5MW) and Meewaun, near Banagher has four turbines (10MW).
Bord na Mona has another wind farm at Cloncreen in east Offaly currently under construction and it will have a maximum capacity of 75MW.
As it exits from peat production, Bord na Mona will further ramp up its wind farm operations and has proposals for turbines at Derrinlough and Lemanaghan.
Other companies have already received the go-ahead from the planning authorities for wind farms in Offaly but for the county to reach a total of 466MW, there would have to be a dramatic development programme in the next few years.
In recent years new wind farms have been coupled with battery storage plants which store electricity generated by renewable means and then release it to the grid when it is required.
The chief executive of the County Council has set a target of 445MW of battery storage by 2027.
One Offaly company has located a 100MW storage plant at Lumcloon.
The target for solar energy in Offaly has been fixed at 145MW by 2027.
Turbines have run in to stiff opposition in various parts of Offaly and the council has designated two zones, one in the east and another in the west as 'open for consideration' for wind energy development.
Energy companies argue that because of technological advances, individual turbines are now capable of generating greater amounts of electricity, thereby reducing the overall number required.
However, they are also soaring to further heights, with the proposed Lemanaghan Bog wind farm blades projected to have a tip height of 220m, just 14m lower than the summit of Croghan Hill.
The new target is included in the draft county development plan which will be considered by councillors soon.
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