Between 21 and 22 hours of wind and hydro-generated energy in Donegal is dumped out of 24 hours every day, Senator Niall Blaney has told Seanad Eireann in his call for network improvements across the island.
Senator Blaney said that Ireland’s national power grid network is not fit-for-purpose for the amount of energy being generated in the north west.
He said a sufficient network doesn’t exist to carry energy out of the county, calling on the Government and European Union to act swiftly ahead of the development of offshore wind farms.
“I can speak only in real terms of County Donegal,” he said. “The situation there, as I know it, is that most of the energy produced by the wind farms and hydro station is currently dumped and wasted.
“In the current climate, with the price people are paying for electricity, it is not good enough.”
Senator Blaney said the EirGrid implementation plan for 2023 to 2028 does not plan enough for the western seaboard or places like County Donegal.
He said: “What I see in front of me does not give any answers or conclusions as to when County Donegal will have the network required. Currently, we dump between 21 and 22 hours of our resources out of 24 hours per day. That is an awful indictment and an awful waste. Donegal is one of the biggest contributors in renewable energy yet we are dumping it.”
Minister of State Ossian Smyth said he was unaware of the dumping of energy from Donegal, but would look into it and said that increases in the grid are needed.
“If this is what is happening, it is not right and it should not be the case,” Minister of State Smith said.
“I would like to work with the Senator to find out what is happening in terms of renewable electricity generated in Donegal and what quantity is being generated there.”
He added: “The Senator is right that we need better internal connections as well as connections to other countries. The North-South interconnector does not cross Donegal. It crosses the Border north-south rather than east-west. We will need increases in the grid.”
Senator Blaney also said it was “sickening” to see that the first offshore wind energy development will be on the east coast of the country.
To this, Minister of State Smith said: “There is a larger population on the east coast and, more importantly, it is easier to put turbines off the east coast because the waters there are shallower. The west coast is windier than the east coast, so there is more potential for generating electricity. It is also more beautiful and has deeper waters. We believe that the technology that will suit the west coast will be floating wind turbines. It is not a commercialised technology yet, although there are pilot projects in Portugal and Scotland. It will be developed in the 2030s. Offshore wind will be developed on the east coast before the west coast.”