Fact Check

Fact 1. The electricity is for the Irish Grid System

Claims that the electricity will be for export

The electricity is not for export. All electricity produced by the proposed Coolglass Wind Farm would feed into the Irish Grid System.

Fact 2. All cables will be placed underground

Claims that the proposed wind farm will require the construction of overhead power lines

There will be no overhead power lines associated with this project. Although a more expensive option, all cables associated with the proposed Coolglass Wind Farm will be placed underground.

Fact 3. Wind farm noise not an issue

It is often stated that “Noise is a huge issue”.

In fact, there are over 1,400 turbines in Ireland with more than 25,000 people living within 2km of those sites, i.e. within the 10x rotor diameter exclusion zone which some people will lead you to believe is required. Over the last decade, we are aware of no more than only a handful of cases who have said they are disturbed by noise. The complaint rate is c. 0.02%, hardly a ‘huge issue’ as claimed.

On the link of “Living with wind” located in the useful links section, you can hear the first-hand experiences of neighbours of wind farms from all over Ireland. Modern wind turbines produce a sound which is very like that made by wind blowing through a forest. When set well back from homes and located according to the current guidelines, as will be the case on any wind farm we seek to develop, there is quite simply no issue with the sound from a well constructed and appropriately developed wind farm.

Fact 4. Wind turbines will be removed when no longer required

There are claims that wind turbines will end up “rust buckets” in the sky

As a matter of course and as part of any planning application, Statkraft Ireland commits to putting a decommissioning bond in place. This bond would be held in trust by the local authority and to ensure that the turbines would be removed from the site once no longer required.

Fact 5. Wind producing energy 80% of the time

There are claims that turbines do not produce energy much of the time

The very opposite is true. Wind turbines produce electricity from a slight breeze (c.13km/h) upwards and data on Met Eireann’s website shows such conditions occur for 80% of the hours of the year. But don’t take our word for it, you’ll find historical data on Met Eireann’s website. Ireland produced 21% of its electricity from wind in 2015, an impressive achievement and clearly not possible if turbines really were stopped for 80% of the time.

Fact 6. Millions of tonnes of CO2 saved

Some claim that there is evidence that wind energy was incapable of making any reduction in CO2.

The evidence is black and white on this one. Both the ESRI and the SEAI have recently published the reports of detailed models of the Irish power system operated with and without wind farms. One used a statistical top-down model. The other used a detailed hour by hour simulation of the demand, wind generation, fossil fuel prices and other variables of the power system. Both studies assessed in detail all the balancing and back-up costs required, and came to a similar conclusion: In 2012, wind energy displaced 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 from our power system. That’s a long way from the zero reduction that those opposed to wind energy will have you believe! This is not just about doing our bit for world climate change, the world is very likely to agree on a world carbon price per tonne of CO2 in the coming years and Ireland’s over-dependence on imported fossil fuels will leave it very exposed economically if it has not begun to decarbonise our energy system. Onshore wind is quite simply the best resource Ireland has to achieve this at scale.

Fact 7. Low frequency noise is not an issue

Claims that low frequency noise which manifested itself as a low thrumming and links this to health issues.

Wind turbines do indeed produce low frequency (or infrasound). By definition, this sound is less than the human hearing threshold of 20Hz. Quite simply, humans can’t hear it and if they can’t hear it, it doesn’t cause any annoyance. Anyone who has visited a wind farm site knows that the sound from the blades is a sort of whoosh. There is no tonal humming or clanking or machinery noise, and certainly no thrumming effect.

Those opposed to wind energy often seek to link this thrumming infrasound to health concerns (a common myth coming mainly from one discredited source, a book called Wind Turbine Syndrome). In fact, our environment is full of such low intensity background infrasound. It’s produced by vehicles on roads, air conditioning units, washing machines, your own beating heart, waves crashing on a beach and a whole host of natural phenomena. As the Australian Environmental Protection Agency concluded in a detailed study in 2013 “Organised shutdowns of the wind farms adjacent to homes where low frequency noise measurements were taken, indicate
there did not appear to be any noticeable contribution from the wind farm to the G-weighted infrasound level measured”. If infrasound was actually a problem for human comfort or health, nobody could live in a city or anywhere near a road.