Image source: EIP website
Wind energy harnesses the power of the wind to turn turbines. The motion of the blades drives an electric generator, and the power from this generator can then be fed into the National Grid. It is a renewable form of energy, as wind is infinite, though it is not as reliable as some other forms of energy, as the wind is not constantly blowing, and so other renewable alternatives are also needed.
Turbines can either be located as part of a farm, or can be found as single turbines used to power a single house. The following has been taken from Wind Energy Ireland's website: "The current grid connected and operational installed wind capacity on the island of Ireland is 5,030 Megawatts (MW). It is estimated that 1MW of wind capacity can provide enough electricity to supply approximately around 600 homes. Based on this figure, an installed capacity of 4,625MW can provide enough electricity to power over 2,456,050 million homes. These figures are correct as of 05/12/19."
Wind farms can be onshore or offshore. For offshore wind farms, the Marine and Coastal Unit of Geological Survey Ireland plays a crucial role for siting these farms. Seabed mapping, carried out by the INFOMAR programme, is a vital activity that allows for responsible and safe siting of offshore wind farms. Through delineation of marine habitats, seabed surveys allow for the location of offshore installations so that sensitive species are not disturbed or adversely affected. For the construction itself, information is needed on accurate water depth and seabed composition so that the correct type of wind turbine foundations are selected. Furthermore, accurate seabed maps provide information on the mobility and stability of the seabed - this ensures that wind turbines will remain safely fixed in position wherever they are placed.
From SEAI (Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland) reports, in 2018, 30% of Ireland's total electricity demand was met by wind energy, and 85% of Ireland's renewable energy was made up from wind energy, making it the most widely used type of renewable energy in Ireland.
For more information about wind energy facts, myths and FAQs, visit Wind Energy Ireland's dedicated page.