Irish Economist – Colm McCarthy says: Time to Scrap Ireland’s Failed Wind Power Policy


The wind industry proves that you can’t fool all the people, all the time.


Scrap wind farm plans, urges economist Colm McCarthy
The Irish Times
Barry Roche
20 October 2014

Ireland already has excess generating capacity under ‘failed EU policy’

Ireland should abandon plans to build more wind farms in order to comply with a European Union policy which has failed – especially in light of the fact that the State already has more power generation capacity than it needs, a leading economist has urged.

Colm McCarthy said Ireland seemed intent on “being the best pupil in the European Union class” when it comes to using renewable energy, despite the fact that this policy has failed and is about to be abandoned.

“It seems to me to be contrary to the national interest to incur substantial economic costs in complying with an EU policy which has failed and which, I think, is in the process of being abandoned,” he said.

“There’s been a big cut now in the renewable energy subsidies in Spain, in Germany, and there’s a big second cut coming in the UK, and it’s quite possible that we will end up in dutiful compliance at enormous cost with a policy everybody else [had] realised simply hasn’t worked.”

Speaking in Cork at the Dublin Economics Workshop’s 37th annual economic policy conference, Mr McCarthy said the Government seemed committed to pursuing wind energy generation here despite a reduction in energy demand.

In a paper entitled Time to Take a Tilt at Windmills, Mr McCarthy argued that, while it made perfect sense to have a certain amount of wind power on a modern power system, particularly if the plants are in the right place, Ireland had already achieved what was necessary from wind generation.

He pointed out that, while it may appear that long-term electricity demand was simple to project, this was not the case, particularly in the case of macro-economic instability and he instanced the Irish experience over the past six years.

Irish electricity consumption peaked in 2008 when it hit 5,000 megawatts and Eirgrid has predicted that this demand level will not be reached again until 2019 at the earliest. Yet Ireland has continued to expand it generation capacity to almost twice this level.

There is currently around 2,400 megawatts of wind generated electricity feeding into the Irish system, of which half has been built since the downturn.
The Irish Times

Colm McCarthy’s presentation is available here in pdf.

Here’s another take on Colm McCarthy’s call to bring an end to the Irish wind power debacle, from the Irish Examiner.

Changing EU policy on wind farms
Irish Examiner
22 October 2014

Cutting wind subsidies

The understanding that we must do as much as we can to reduce our dependence on imported energy and minimise carbon emissions has driven the development of alternative energy options. This acceptance has almost become one of the sacred orthodoxies of the age, unchallengeable and obvious. The most visible of these alternative energy sources, and often the most divisive, is wind energy.

Champions of wind energy see it as an ideal technology for an island on the Atlantic’s eastern seaboard and that it represents one of Ireland’s very best chances of making meaningful cuts to our carbon emissions.

Those opposed, especially those living close to wind farms, say turbines make homes uninhabitable and destroy communities without conferring any real advantage. They suggest they endure the unpleasant consequences while others enjoy the profits.

Some opposition is fuelled by the belief that wind farms dependent on subsidies seem yet another in a long line of schemes used by those with access to the substantial capital needed to build them to harvest grants from the public purse. Wind farms do seem another way to concentrate wealth rather than an opportunity to redistribute it.

The opposition to wind farms is widening and just last weekend economist Colm McCarthy suggested that we should abandon plans to build more wind farms to try to comply with failed European Union policies. Mr McCarthy suggested the EU is about to abandon its policy of supporting wind farms and that we already generate more energy than we need so it would be a waste of public money to build more. He pointed out that there has already been a significant cut in the renewable energy subsidies in Spain and in Germany, and another round of cuts is expected in Britain.

In light of this unexpected change in heart the very least we should do is quickly declare a suspension of subsidies and reappraise wind farms economically and environmentally. We simply cannot afford to be in the white elephant business. After all, we have monuments to a failed energy policy from another age all around our country — hydroelectricity schemes that make little or no meaningful contribution to national energy budgets standing like watchtowers on river systems destroyed by dams. How sad it would be, and what a waste of money it would be, if today’s wind farms became the more or less redundant hydroelectricity schemes of tomorrow.

Any assessment of energy policies must also consider the suggestion that by doing no more than changing the fuel used at Moneypoint — from coal to sustainable biomass in the form of wood pellets — we would meet obligations on our renewables and avoid the prospect of multimillion-euro fines imposed by the EU. It has been suggested that even though we would have to transport the wood pellets from the US, initially at least, carbon emissions would be cut by at least 80% compared to burning coal at Moneypoint.

The scale and importance of these issues suggest that an early and comprehensive energy review is warranted.
Irish Examiner

colm mccarthy

Colm McCarthy: we won’t be fooled again.

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.


  1. Reblogged this on Windy Arbour Woman and commented:
    Irish and UK politicians are listening to residents worried about wind farms and economists arguing against their high cost. Pat Rabitte says the Ireland UK interconnector deal has been put on hold

  2. Jackie Rovenksy says:

    Everywhere the story is the same. In the second article there is mention of benefactors of Wind energy utilising subsidies to further their profiteering. Is it any different anywhere else – no. There is mention of continued push for turbines when the demand for electricity is declining, when others are pulling back on supporting and funding them, what’s different to what is happening here – nothing. There are comments about noise complaints and homes becoming uninhabitable, what’s different here – nothing.
    The story is repeated worldwide and yet Governments and those wanting to form Governments supported by pressure groups including the industry, continue to push and support the invasion of IWT’s.
    When there are better ways and research continues to show other ways can be less costly on health, the environment and are more efficient the question of WHY needs to be asked and the answer will almost certainly come back in several forms – ideology that some find impossible to jettison, ignorance and/or money – three vices that can destroy peoples lives, livelihoods and the environment.
    There’s a worldwide conflict happening and the antagonists are in our midst, ready to turn us into a servile class, dependent on their handouts.

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