Eamon Ryan pictured in Lough Boora in 2020.Photo: Chris Bellew /Fennell Photography.

Boost for two Offaly wind farms in contract deals

Two major Offaly-based wind farms were among the big winners in the Government's second competitive auction under the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS 2).

SSE Renewables-owned Green Wind Energy (Wexford) Ltd received a contract for its 104 megawatt (MW) Yellow River Wind Farm in Rhode, while Bord na Móna's 105MW Derrinlough Wind Farm, close to Fivealley and Cloghan, was also successful.

A much smaller renewable energy winner at auction was applicant EEPV10 Limited for what's described as the 5.8MW Muinagh Solar Farm project, close to Tullamore.

National grid operator Eirgrid confirmed on Friday last that in all, there were 80 projects, the Offaly wind farms being among the largest, to win contracts to supply more than 2,700MW, with a guaranteed price for power, in the second Renewable Energy Support Scheme auction (RESS 2). This support to power generators typically applies for approximately 15 years.

The 29-turbine Yellow River Wind Farm project north of Rhode village which could generate enough power for 66,000 homes annually, was granted full planning approval back in 2014.

In a statement on its website, SSE Renewables confirmed that it will “continue to progress the 29-turbine wind farm" through "development and towards a Final Investment Decision”.

The project is expected to support up to 80 full-time construction jobs during the building phase.

“Subject to a timely positive Final Investment Decision, SSE Renewables expects to complete delivery of Yellow River Wind Farm in 2024 and will operate the asset throughout its lifetime.

“The provisional contract win means Yellow River will receive guaranteed revenue for the low-carbon electricity it generates for the duration of the RESS-2 contract,” the statement added.

The wind farm will also support a substantial Community Benefit Fund to the value of around €9 million to promote a range of energy sustainability and other community initiatives in the area.

In September last year, An Bord Pleanála gave the green light for a substantial wind farm comprising 21 turbines of up to 185 metres in height close to the communities of Fivealley and Cloghan.

The Derrinlough Wind Farm, to be developed by Bord Na Mona Powergen Ltd, will be located on part of the Clongawny and Drinagh bogs close to the existing peat briquette factory.

The wind farm covers 34.2 hectares of land across a number of townlands with the site approximately 2km south of Cloghan, 3.4km east of Banagher and 2.5km north of Fivealley, some eight kilometres from Birr.

Bord na Móna has yet to respond for comment on the auction success and the progress of the wind farm in Derrinlough.

Commenting on the latest RESS auction results Minister Eamon Ryan said it delivers a huge volume of renewable energy to our grid, helping to protect households and businesses from high fossil fuel prices.

“Ireland is a world leader in onshore wind, with the third highest wind generation in the world. This auction continues to build on this and will diversify our energy supply with solar at scale. Higher prices for renewables are mainly driven by inflationary pressures across input costs and international supply chains constraints. However, renewables are still much cheaper than fossil fuel alternatives and will drive down costs,” the Minister concluded.