The divisions Irish business announced last month that it plans to invest €8 billion in a series of wind farms in the midlands. It was confirmed recently that they will proceed with plans to develop a 36-megawatt (MW) wind farm in Co Tipperary. Build time should be about a year. No construction cost was disclosed. Online trade publication reNews said Element had chosen Nordex as the preferred turbine supplier. The project will require 15 machines capable of generating 2.4 MW each. These cost about €900,000 per MW of output, putting the cost at just short of €33 million.
The Monaincha wind farm is designed to supply electricity to the Irish national grid rather than export it to Britain. Kevin O’Donovan, the company’s chief development officer for Ireland, said energy minister Pat Rabbitte’s recent decision to introduce a new round of supports for green energy had prompted it to move ahead with the project. “There are a lot of things that you need to have in place for a wind energy project,” he said. “That was one of them, so we decided to go ahead.” Mr O’Donovan said the turbines the company intends to instal at Monaincha are designed to operate at lower wind speeds than those generally used in Ireland. “In that respect, they are new technology,” he added. The project is at the end of the planning stage. Mr O’Donovan said the company hopes to have the turbines on site in Tipperary in about 12 months’ time. Last month, Element said it planned to invest €8 billion in Ireland on the back of a deal with the British national grid company National Grid Transmission.
The company proposes building 40 new wind farms in midland counties and channelling the energy to Britain via dedicated underwater cables. 10,000 jobs would be created during the construction phase and 3,000 long-term jobs in Ireland and the UK. Mr O’Donovan said the company was making “reasonable progress” in identifying suitable sites in the midlands for this project. Element Power is a multinational backed by US-based Hudson Clean Energy, a private equity firm specialising in sectors such as wind and solar power, which manages $1 billion worth of investments. It has operations in 14 countries.
Tim Cowhig is chief executive of Element’s Irish division. A chartered accountant with over 20 years commercial experience, Tim was instrumental in setting up SWS Energy where, as CEO and Executive Director, he oversaw nearly 200MW of operational wind and 400MW of development projects ahead of its sale to Bord Gais in December 2009. Tim has long been a champion of the Irish renewable energy sector; including as Chairman of the Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA) from 2002 to 2009 and currently as a director of the association. Through ongoing involvement he has led the development of wind energy among Irish policy makers, regulators and financial institutions.