Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte yesterday delivered more good news for Ireland with the announcement that some of the largest wind turbines in the world may be built  across the midlands.

Speaking about the proposed project, he said “I think there is a mutual interest here for both countries, adding: “Ireland doesn’t want a wind farm at every cross roads; we don’t want that”.


Richard Tol, professor of economics at University of Sussex and formerly with the ESRI, said he felt that the whole scheme was “crazy” and would not work in the long term, adding:

“From an Irish perspective this is not selling the family silver; this is giving it away. There is no money staying in Ireland that I can see. But from the British perspective it is a good deal,”


BBC Audio.

Previously: Ireland to build ‘Giant’ wind turbines to power the UK (BBC News)

(Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland)

67 thoughts on “Con With The Wind

  1. PaulyD

    Why on earth would we want to try and get to the forefront of renewable energy and at the same time create much needed employment? How are these wind turbines going to look in the middle of a spent bog? What about all the tourists that don’t want to go there anyway? What about all the locals who the turbines interfere with? Who’s going to pay them compensation for having to put up with no disruption to their everyday lives?

    1. Joe Duffy

      Ever-optimistic FG sort?

      One point is that a resource management policy is needed and the very act of “giving it away” suggests there is either no policy, that the civil servants are not good at this kind of thing or else the government are vetoing policy recommendations.

      FG are eager to sell off privatised business (“state assets”) in the country with little time for difficult concepts such as natural monopoly. It’s one thing to want to privatise home-grown corporate entities like RTE, it’s quite another to allow somebody else exploit our natural resources for a handshake and a “good news story”.

      It’s a matter of cash in the country and there’s never been a better time for reckless expansion, particularly if the government can spin it as “inward investment”.

      1. Betty

        This is totally not a new thing. We’ve been exploiting/giving away our national assets for years without proper recompense. It still makes me INCREDIBLY ANGRY though if we are not getting anything out of this except for the small limited time-frame job creation it will take to build them, and even then we will probably hire in people with experience outside the country to start it up.

      2. SiriusBrowne

        Clearly you know nothing about the wind energy sector.
        One of the projects involved is Mainstream and Irish company run by Eddie Oconnor so Irish business will benefit greatly from this.

        To address your “giving it away” point wind is not Oil, you cannot charge extra royalties and taxes, if you did then companies simply wouldnt invest.

        What you can do is allow the local land owners to reap large rents, the government to reap large taxes both local and corporate, engineers, technicians, geographers, builders, environmental scientists, consultants etc to acquire sustainable jobs, and have all of this funded by private investors and the british tax payer via UK Price purchase agreements.

        Clean, sustainable, commercially viable this project will be a boon for the Irish economy.

          1. SiriusBrowne

            Wow, super intelligent contribution. Do you want to expand on that by addressing any of the points that I made or making any of your own? Nah, thats too much like work, just sit back there in your chair and change tabs back to the porn you were watching, you waster.

  2. Kolmo

    Penny dropping….”release the info we’ve known about for months, you know, the horse burger scandal – then give away more of our assets while the easily distracted fools are..distracted..”
    Pádraig Ó Caoinín
    Rossmore 2!

  3. paul

    If you hadn’t been aware of what we are doing in Mayo and elsewhere this would be staggering. As it is, I’m just surprised we’re not actually paying the Brits to setup these things they don’t want and take the electricity from us. I presume Bertie or Enda or a few of the lads own the land these will be built on?

    1. Joe Duffy

      That’s history – if you care to read up on the environment standards record with regard natural resources in this country.

      Give away resources and apply the “lite touch” regulation, once Paddy gets to do the shovelwork.

      Nothing wrong with making a stand, particularly when it comes to resources. You’ll find most other countries actually manage their natural resources….

        1. Joe Duffy

          Opposed to rushing into things like this dogmatically.

          No problem with windfarms but it’s in our national interest to make assessments as to whether the state should be investing in this kind of infrastructure. If done transparently, capital markets would respond to “project bonds”.

      1. SiriusBrowne

        You have to understand this is not oil or gas. Wind is not treated like this in any jurisdiction. You dont pay extra royalties or taxes for it. In fact its the opposite, the government (in this case UK) susidise it via price purchase agreements or renewable obligation certificates to make it competitive. If you started raising crazy taxes or wind resource royalties you would destroy the industry.

        You need to look at it this way. Its clean, sustainable, unlimited and secure energy. We will be creating thousands of jobs and generating tax revenue (local and corporate) as well as rents for local landowners.

        The reason we charge #ahem should charge ;) extra royalties for oil and gas is because they are finite resources and exploitation of them can pose a serious danger to the local environment and human health. These factors dont exist with wind and to in addition we would render ourselves completely uncompetitive if we did.

        This is a good deal for us.

    1. Ed

      …guaranteed to come in 4 times over budget and 20 years later than planned. Besides, we don’t have the population densities that make nuclear work so well. A decentralised grid suits Ireland’s needs far better.

      As for this plan – we sell power to the UK when it’s extra windy here, they sell power back to us when it’s not – this is how to make renewables work, European grid connectivity.

      That, and Richard Tol is to environmental economics what John Waters is to social policy.

      1. Paul

        Richard Tol looks like a crusty but actually isn’t. John Waters looks like a hippy but actually isn’t.

        Anymore names we can add to this list? Roy Keane? He looks like a knacker but actually… meh.

  4. john

    sounds all too familiar…
    oil …sold
    gas ..sold
    what next the sun…( what little we have)

          1. Clampers Outside!

            @Metv It goes on in the South of the UK around Kent. I know that.

            Maybe boroughs or counties vary but it does go on.
            I was quite aghast myself when told when visiting friends and admiring a lovely vegetable garden and informed the water collected was taxed.

  5. gk lyle

    The energy grid is the best bank in the world. Build. Generate. Store. We (Irish) don’t have the build technology? Hire a specialist contractor. We don’t have the management ability? Learn it. We don’t have the money? Wait until we do. First the forests, now the wind. There is nothing to be gained from rushing into this.

    1. paul m

      we have the build technology – its based in Harland and Wolff. The management ability is here too via BNM and ESB both currently managing wind farms on the grid and EIRGRID have already integrated into it (BTW ESB have a system in place for people to contribute power to the grid and get paid for it). We do have the money, aforementioned electricity companies are diverting investments into this as we speak.

      so why are we selling out so cheaply? Because yet again a government is bowing to demands of someone who is telling us the sky will fall on our heads if we dont pay up now instead of holding out for a better deal. This deal has the makings of the quality negotiations done for our offshore rights and fishing rights written all over it – selling the cow to the man with the magic beans. Our forests are next.

      1. SiriusBrowne

        We are actually “bowing out” to a collective of private developers (including a very large Irish one) who proposed and floated the plan.
        The ESB has not proposed such a plan and has thus far declined to be involved in this project.
        You have to understand that renewables are a decentralised private sector driven industry. Its not a top down industry- the government does not organise and run it. These are private actors that spotted a great business idea went to their respective governments and lobbied and here we are.

    2. Betty

      I couldn’t agree more. Why on earth haven’t any government we have had since the birth of the free state learnt the concept of FORWARD PLANNING. Honest to god. A bunch of arse monkeys.

  6. Joe

    The Irish grid cant take more than about 40% renewables, we can generate way more. If we dont have a place to sell it, it doesnt get built. The UK have to close a rake of coal plants in the next few years and have a serious energy supply issue. WHere is the win for Ireland? Short term construction jobs. Longer term operation jobs (smaller number). Rents to landlords who own the land the turbines are on. Rates to local authorities from the operators. More than likely, community dividends will be a planning condition too. There is also supply chain potential. A lot of the gear will be made overseas, but not all.

    Plenty of benefits. Rabbitte may have gotten plenty of things wrong, but this isn’t one of them.

    1. Chucky R. Law

      If our wind potential has value to others then access to prime sites should be auctioned off in an open competition just like mobile phone spectrum or any other resource, maximising the take for Ireland.

  7. Ossian Smyth

    “There is no money staying in Ireland that I can see.”

    Has he not heard of corporation tax, local business rates, landowner rents or employment taxes?

    Land rents for farmers are around €20,000/year for a windmill. Commercial rates will be at a similar level. The details are not worked out yet but the state could also choose to levy royalties on wind exports and spend the money locally.

    If done right this could be a great project.

      1. Joe

        Not a good enough reason not to try. I share some of your scepticism, but it cant be a reason for paralysis

  8. Magairlí Moncaí

    Renewable energy is highly subsidized. The contracts for building the largest wind turbines in the world are unlikely to be won by Irish companies. They will be shipped in from abroad. Set up by specialized companies. The amount of people needed to maintain them is very small. The few landowners will receive a nice lump sum but will be screwd over considering the turbines are going to be there a lot longer than they will. The companies and investors will get big profits for selling the energy to the UK and the local community might receive some modest funding if they’re lucky. Ireland doesn’t benefit from these projects.

    1. Betty

      I totally agree, and the shame of it is that we could see the benefit, if only we took it on ourselves.

    2. SiriusBrowne

      “Renewable energy is highly subsidized.”
      Yes and in this case it will be the British government paying subsidies to Irish based companies.

      “The contracts for building the largest wind turbines in the world are unlikely to be won by Irish companies.”
      There are no Irish companies that build wind turbines- of course they will come from Germany, France and Denmark primarily.
      This is like arguing that no Irish built cars will be used in the process.(?!?)

      “They will be shipped in from abroad.”
      Logistics jobs

      “Set up by specialized companies.”
      Wind farm developers use local contractors for engineering works etc as it is much cheaper. Also we know have the expertise for this in Ireland so there is no issue here.

      “The amount of people needed to maintain them is very small.”
      Very small is not a number. Local maintenance teams will be required, environmental impact updates also have to be carried out.

      “The few landowners will receive a nice lump sum but will be screwd over considering the turbines are going to be there a lot longer than they will.”
      Land owners receive annual rents indexed to inflation. Turbines generally have a life of 20 years and then are dismanteled at the cost of the wind farm operator (including excavation of foundations).

      “The companies and investors will get big profits for selling the energy to the UK and the local community might receive some modest funding if they’re lucky.”
      Investors will get big profits which is what happens in a market economy when you decide to invest hundreds of millions in infrastructure in an otherwise deprived area. The Irish government will earn millions on corporate and local taxes and rates and what they give to the local community will have to be determined.

      “Ireland doesn’t benefit from these projects.”
      Ireland does benefit from these projects.

      1. Rufticus

        Arragh SiriusBrowne,

        Who do you think you are coming in here with all these facts and logical thinking? Can’t you see the pessimistic, self-appointed experts on everything are having a rant and don’t want to be interrupted.

        In all seriousness, a great project that will have wide ranging, lasting economic benefits for Ireland. Projects like this were exactly what we had in mind when the inter-connector was built in the first place. This is one of the times that both this government and the last one actually did have the foresight to put in place a longterm plan for a deprived area and have followed it through.

      2. Magairlí Moncaí

        No doubt jobs will be created, money will be made, but it’s unlikely much of it will be shared with the region the turbines are located. The impact of these big turbines will affect more than the person whose land it occupies. The energy is sold to the UK, the profits remain with investors.

        A significant amount of the jobs created will be in the manufacturing of the turbines, so thats great for whoever makes them but it wont affect our unemployment rate.

        The logistics of shipment and the development of the wind farms account for a very short term gain for those involved.

        Can you put the millions of euros the government earns in taxes into context.

        Its a very lucrative project for those involved but its effect on the economy and employment is greatly exaggerated.

        Why cant we focus on developing the Irish grid sustainably first and investing in Irish companies to manufacture wind turbines.

  9. sorcha

    As long as the Irish people let this happen, all they can do is complain when it’s done. Where are you? There is Shell creaming off on the west coast while breaking laws, there’s off shore drilling ready to start just down the roadfrom Dalkey, there is this wind park…and you are in the pub?

    1. holyMadness

      Point taken, but what os really interesting is how do we stop these idiots selling off and scarring the country. What do you suggest. Seriously, I have no clue. Standing in front of the Dail with a placard or signing petitions is futile, and I feel powerless fighting against concerns that can clearly buy governments. Kind of makes me want a drink and a laugh.

      1. Melv

        Get in on the act if you own land in a suitable area and secure a future for your family on the farm. The land can still be worked around and grazed. If we don’t build them we’ll be wondering in 20 years time why didn’t we. Iceland is rich in geothermal power and is 80-90% self-sufficient in energy, why not Ireland with wind.

        Meitheal Na Gaoithe – Irish Wind Farmers Association is another project.

        EU Supergrid

        Or we can just keep pumping €’s into banks and bondholders and watch family & friends emigrate.

  10. PaulyD

    In regards to your comment about scarring the country, you need to think about the future in more terms than just your lifespan.

  11. Bingo

    I think we should definitely try to get a few nice big German turbines sitting on the Hill of Tara. Shouldn’t be any transport issues either, with the decent road through there.

    1. Pippin

      Quick note that road “through” the Hill of Tara is further away than the older national road from the hill…just saying

        1. Pippin

          Yeah you might have a point there. Guess you better suggest that to them when they want to put turbines up there – shame they’re just thinking about putting them in the non-touristy parts of Ireland right?

  12. cousinjack

    On the pratical side, there isn’t enough marine electricity tranmission cable manufactured or ships to lay it to have this project operational within a 10 year window. just saying

    btw 5000 MW is circa 2500 to 3500 turbines, and these can be manufactured and supplied in what time frame?

  13. Erin

    Just in regards to the scale of the turbines they’re proposing, the turbine outside Dundalk college in Louth (which can be seen from miles away) stands at somewhere between 60 and 80 metres. The model they plan to build is listed as 180 metres, at least double possibly triple the size of the one outside DkIT. An absolutely incredible height.

    40 clusters across five counties, there might not be one located at every crossroads but the bets are you’ll definitely be able to see one.

    If they plan to change the landscape of these areas so dramatically then personally I would expect the benefits of these turbines to be pointed inwards, not piped undersea to Wales.

  14. Sean D

    This scheme has been dreamed up by a small handful of powerful, bullying developers who have open door access to the Irish Department of Communications Energy and Natural Resources. This Department is under resourced and out of its depth..unquestioningly accepting wind industry spin. The FG/ Labour coalition promised to root out speculation.??? ?,, Just watch as the original Irish promoters take this shameful project as far as they can, then sell out to mutinational energy companies. making a fortune in the process.
    Lets hope our planners see this scheme for what it is. .a get rich quick scheme by Irish speculators allied to .an attempt by the UK to export its planning problems to Ireland.

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