The issues around wind energy
Sustainable development is described as “development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. It’s a continuous guided process of economic, environmental and social change aimed at promoting the wellbeing of citizens now and into the future.
It is in the context of these three pillars that wind energy must be examined since Section 34(2) (a) of the Planning and Development Act 2000 states “When making its decision in relation to an application under this section, the Planning Authority shall be restricted to considering the proper planning and sustainable development of an area”.
Constructing wind turbines and the associated grid creates a multitude of challenging social issues in communities. The primary ones are: adverse health impacts caused by noise; exclusion from the decision-making process; degradation of property values; community division and infringement on the rights of citizens to enjoy the residential amenity of their own homes. Wind farms are also socially inequitable as they involve a wealth transfer by levies on energy bills from taxpayers to developers.
Large investments in wind energy and the associated grid to connect and balance them have repercussions for electricity prices, national competitiveness and household spending. Economics is about the use of scarce resources and demands an evidence base to support decision making in the form of a “Cost Benefit Analysis” (CBA). An official CBA on wind has never been carried out. This CBA would determine all the benefits, subtract all the costs and reveal if a net benefit to Ireland existed from wind energy.
The primary reason for constructing wind farms is to reduce CO2 emissions and prevent global warming. There is compelling evidence that the intermittent nature of wind energy renders it ineffective at reducing CO2 emissions in a meaningful way.
Irelands 2,000 MW of installed wind is reducing our overall CO2 emissions by a maximum of 2% and possibly less than 1% annually. The visual intrusion of wind turbines on our landscape is also an issue which must be considered from an Environmental perspective.