It’s never too late to learn from Denmark – The Irish Times

We tend to think of modern wind turbines as a modern invention. In fact, it dates back to the late 1890s. Danish physicist and inventor Paul La Cour invented the basic turbine technology for generating electricity. His 1903 design for a windmill for the village of Ascoff became a prototype for an electric power station that supplied electricity until 1958. Thanks to Lacour and the electricians he trained, the wind provided 3 percent of Danish electricity by 1918. Reflecting the cooperative movement in Ireland, rural communities embraced warmth technology lighting and mechanization of agriculture.

The Danish government was the first country to introduce significant subsidies for renewable energy in the 1970s including a tariff system, which has been successfully replicated in Germany. In addition, local energy cooperatives have been incentivized by tax credits for setting up wind farms. By 2001, wind turbine cooperatives, representing more than 100,000 households, had installed 86 percent of all turbines in Denmark.

What can we learn from the Danish story? Ireland has an impressive record of developing onshore winds and integrating them into a self-contained network. But there are still significant barriers. newly Report Commissioned by Wind Energy Ireland, it has warned that without accelerating Eirgrid’s plan to improve the grid, the target of generating 80 per cent of Ireland’s electricity using renewables by 2030 simply will not be achieved. Given the scale of the energy crisis, shouldn’t Ireland really be on the verge of collapse, treating the rapid spread of renewables as an opportunity to launch our moon?

When wind power was developed in Ireland in the 1990s, it was seen as a financial opportunity. I was a student of the renewable energy course offered by the Tipperary Institute in 2002-2003, and at the time it was not framed as an opportunity for a social and technical transition to a clean energy system. Unlike Denmark, where communities, NGOs and scientists have led campaigns for renewables and clean energy, the public in Ireland was not seen as a serious stakeholder – we can voice our opinions; We could object but we didn’t have a “share”. The decision-making process is still dominated by procedural, financial and technical considerations, rather than social and political ones.

Given the scale and costs associated with wind nowadays, it was inevitable that capital and project management expertise would be required for large utilities and power companies to expand this sector. However, the government has given insufficient attention to the importance of public support and community ownership of Ireland’s renewable resources, and the need to communicate effectively and independently of the benefits of renewable energies.

As a result, every proposal for an onshore wind farm now encounters objections and delays, sometimes based on myths about health effects or noise — all of which have been thoroughly debunked by repeated investigations over the past decade, but still dominate the airwaves and social media. Political support on the ground for the wild winds is lukewarm at best.

The rather brutal appearance of modern turbines over our mountains belies the beautiful physics that dictate their design. Just like a bicycle, wind turbines are an almost perfect example of pollution-free technology. Also, when it comes to wind power, bigger is better, so it might be time to let go of our association with “small is beautiful.”

The world’s largest offshore wind turbine is now in the development phase with a nominal capacity of 16 MW with a swept area of ​​more than 43,000 square metres, the equivalent of six football fields. Each turbine has the capacity to power more than 20,000 homes.

I may be unusual, but I don’t understand why there are no wind turbines everywhere, on farms, on our rooftops, in our industrial areas and along our coasts. True, some bad planning decisions were made. Poorly located wind farms can have a negative environmental impact. But behind many objections is the belief that the wind industry harvests for profit a local resource that, with some legal reforms and innovations, should be in community ownership instead. It is also difficult to get people excited about carbon-neutral technology if it is primarily seen as offsetting harmful emissions for large energy users such as data centers. Unsurprisingly, demands for a publicly owned power system reminiscent of the early days of ESB are beginning to emerge. This sense of alienation reflects the renewable technologies that once inspired visions of a democratic and locally owned energy system.

There are of course significant technical and economic challenges to using 100 percent renewable electricity, and wind energy is not entirely environmentally benign. But if we don’t take this opportunity to throw everything on this moon in the midst of an unprecedented energy and climate crisis, we’d be really fools.

It was pitted by O’Neill, a researcher in climate policy and politics