CLARE County Council plans to facilitate the development of Pumped Freshwater Hydro Energy Storage facilities in the county, similar to those already developed at Turlough Hill in County Wicklow.
Three locations – Slieve Callan, Slieve Bernagh and Woodcock Hill in Meelick – have been marked as “indicative areas” for the proposed facilities, which are outlined in the newly developed Draft Clare County Renewable Energy Strategy.
Commenting on the proposal to facilitate the development of PFHES facilities in the county, senior planner, Gordon Daly said such technology was “relatively underutilised in Ireland but presented significant potential for the domestic renewables sector”.
Clare County Council is one of the first local authorities in the country to seek to incorporate such a renewable energy strategy into their County Development Plan.
Mr Daly explained that a pumped hydroelectric energy scheme is a mechanical device for storing energy, consisting of two large reservoirs located at different elevations, typically between 200m to 300m, and a number of pump and turbine units.
Fresh water stored in an upper reservoir is processed in a turbine to recover its energy. The turbine runs a generator, which converts the mechanical energy into electricity which is fed to the grid.
The processed water is then captured in a lower reservoir.
“When demand for electricity is low, usually at night, the water is pumped back up into the upper reservoir,” he explained.
The draft strategy outlines the potential for a range of renewable resources, including bioenergy and anaerobic digestion, micro-renewables, geothermal, solar, hydro, energy storage, onshore and offshore wind, wave and tidal energy.
Mayor of Clare Joe Arkins has described the harnessing of renewable energy resources as “a key method of attracting inward investment” to County Clare.
“Clare County Council is taking a proactive approach to facilitating renewable energy development and, through this strategy, is helping to guide the location and development of renewable energy proposals.
“A clear opportunity exists in Ireland, and particularly here in County Clare, to exploit renewable energy resources.
“In doing so, the council is seeking to create clean energy and attract inward investment to the county and the country, at a time when Ireland is searching for solutions to many social and economic issues.
“The publication of this draft strategy is timely, as it coincides with the announcement by the ESB of a wave energy project near Doonbeg, which will have a spend of up to €50 million, with a significant number of positive spin-offs for the local community and wider region,” added Mayor Arkins.
Clare County Manager, Tom Coughlan, emphasised that the draft strategy acknowledges the significant contribution that a range of renewable resources can make towards County Clare being more energy secure, less reliant on traditional fossil fuels, enabling future energy export and meeting assigned targets.
“Clare is particularly fortunate to possess considerable wind, biomass, wave and tidal resources.
“It is imperative that we have a strategy in place to maximise the potential of these resources while minimising any environmental impacts, thus enabling the county to achieve a low-carbon economy,” he said.
Copies of the Draft Clare County Renewable Energy Strategy and proposed variation to the Clare County Development Plan may be inspected during normal opening hours until Friday, April 11, at the council offices or at www.clarecoco.ie.