Wind Energy: Engage, Involve, Energize!

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Ireland

Ireland ireland

 

Overall summary

 

State of play wind capacity installed and 2020 target

Cumulative onshore capacity - end 2014: 2,246.5 MW

NREAP Target 2020 (onshore): 4,094 MW

Source: European Wind Energy Association; European Commission, DG Energy, National Action Plan

Ireland’s target under the EU Renewables Directive is for renewable resources to account for 16% of total energy consumption by 2020. This has been translated into national government targets of 40% Renewable Electricity, 12% Renewable Heat and 10% Renewable Transport by 2020. The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) has confirmed that Ireland is currently over half way towards meeting these targets.

Irish progress on wind and renewables has been positive with the first commercial wind farm becoming operational in 1992 and today (2015) almost 2500MW of installed capacity in place in the Republic of Ireland. Irish wind energy alone made up over 18% of total electricity in 2014, leading to a record low in the carbon intensity of Ireland’s generation and saving €200m in energy imports. Irish onshore wind energy has been recognised by the Irish Government as the most cost competitive source of Irish renewable energy, and the leading role which Irish onshore wind energy will play in the country’s future energy mix clearly established.

 

Legal framework for information and engagement measures

The Government has in place a wind farm planning guidelines , which are currently under review, and which sets out the current guidance and expectations for wind energy developments. A new Energy White Paper is due for publication in December 2015, setting out the roadmap for Irish energy and will also be setting out the role for communities and energy citizens as part of the Irish energy transition.
All commercial wind energy developments are subject to planning consent, and there are detailed consultation and information requirements set out under the current planning process. Planning applications can be made either to the relevant local authority, or if the development is greater than 50 MW or 25 turbines, then an application maybe required to be submitted to An Bord Pleanála, under the Strategic Infrastructure Act, depending on the size of the development (see information on SID Planning Procedure in Section 5.1.5 below).

Other relevant links:

Planning guidance

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)

 

The Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA) has also set out a clear set of best practice guidelines on wind farm development, which were further updated with a specific set of guidance for the Irish wind energy sector on Best Practice Principles in Community Engagement & Community Commitment

  1. Good Neighbour- IWEA Best Practice Principles in Community Engagement & Community Commitment (2013)
  2. IWEA Best Practice Guidelines For the Irish Wind Industry (2012)

IWEA, as the leading Irish renewable energy industry association sets out in detail the guidance to wind energy developers on engaging early and in an ongoing and sustained way with communities over and above statutory requirements. The guidance also sets out best practice in terms of community engagement, commitment and benefit. Information on the suggested level of community benefit contributions to be made by a developer are contained in the 2013 IWEA Best Practice Principles in Community Engagement and Community Commitment, however developers can choose to go beyond this level if desired or broaden the scope of their own community engagement. There are already a wide number of positive examples in place of community engagement and benefit in Ireland some of which are set out within the document.

 

Legal framework for innovative financial measures

Information on possible approaches are available in the 2013 IWEA Best Practice Principles in Community Engagement and Community Commitment (Good Neighbour):

“in general, not a requirement of planning policy or a requirement for the grant of a planning permission (although there is provision under the Strategic Infrastructure Act to require a service to be provided in a local area.) It should be noted that in general a community commitment agreement is not legally binding and the decision to offer additional benefits is an entirely voluntary act on the part of the wind farm operator, according to Best practice principles for delivering extended benefits to local communities for wind farm developments of 5 Megawatts (MW) or above”

Other sources on community engagement : "Wind Energy in Ireland: Building Community Engagement and Social Support" (July 2014)