The construction of a €200 million wind farm in West Clare could generate an additional €100 million spin-off from a major multinational company specialising in data storage and information technology.
That’s according to one of the developers of West Clare Renewable Energy Limited that has lodged a planning application with Clare County Council for a major wind farm on Slieve Callan.
The co-op’s proposal is for 31 wind turbines with hub height of 80 metres and rotor diameter of 90 metres, sub-station and two control buildings, site and ground works. This would make it one of the country’s biggest wind farms and it would be linked to the national grid.
Company chairman, Padraig Howard said the project promoters have been approached by three major multinational companies interested in locating in the county where low carbon green electricity is readily available.
Plans for the world’s largest data storage plant was recently announced for Lockerbie in Scotland. Lockerbie Data Centres Limited’s €800 million project will give the town a leading international centre in information technology and data storage.
Green energy in the form of wind power and biomass will provide a sustainable contribution to the vast energy needs of the development. Waste heat generated by the banks of computer servers will also be reused to heat the existing town, new village and businesses park.
Mr Howard is hopeful that a similar development could be in the offing for Ennis and other town such as Kilrush, Shannon, Miltown Malbay and Ennistymon if the wind farm goes ahead.
“The world’s top companies are now making strategic decision to secure locations where they can find these renewable resources. Clare has them in abundance and through sustainable harnessing of its wind, wave and bio-mass resources the county can lead the way and become Ireland’s green capital.
“The farm families of rural Clare are pivotal to the successful realisation of this vision and the Mount Callan Co-Op is an example of how it can be achieved,” he said.
The wind farm could deliver 325,872 megawatt hours of electricity annually, sufficient to supply 59,195 households or all the homes in Clare and Limerick City combined. Based on SEI figures of electricity in Irish households 2007, this would lead to Clare being a net exporter of green, carbon free electricity.
The wind farm would lead to a carbon emissions savings over its lifetime of 25 years of 4.4 million tonnes of CO2, after taking into account all the carbon emissions involved with the construction of the project. In fact, it would take just eight months of generation to offset more carbon emissions than are associated with the project.
An estimated 150 people from Miltown Malbay, Kilmaley-Connolly, Kilmurry Ibrickane and Inagh attended a public consultation evening at the Bellbridge House Hotel last month.
Mr Howard stated a survey conducted on the evening showed overwhelming positive support for the project and in particular the local involvement in the project. He said that proposed creation of local and sustainable jobs in the Green Economy was widely welcomed.
The Clare-based company represents a partnership between renewable energy experts and 30 local farming families, most of whom have owned the land for over five generations.
Over the past 15 years, a number of landowners have come together as a group to investigate the development of a wind farm at Slieve Callan. Planning documents lodged with the council stated a key driver in the partnership is the provision of a financial package that offers landowners within the local community a return that is unparalled in the wind industry to date.
“Landowners will retain full ownership of their lands as part of the proposed project and will have about 66% ownership of the wind farm development company. Further benefits include a community fund element to the project.
“This fund will consist of an initial €500 per megawatt installed on the proposed wind farm annually, payable to a community-based fund administered by an appointed committee aiding the four local parishes.
Identified in the County Development Plan 2005-2011 as an optimal strategic area, of regional and national importance for wind energy harnessing, the site is considered by the developers to be very suitable for the proposed development.