Ireland’s first community owned wind farm was officially opened by Minister Pat Rabbitte, TD Minister for Communications, Energy & Natural Resources in Templederry Co. Tipperary today. Templederry Community Wind Farm counts students, farmers and a local priest amongst its owners. The group is now producing green electricity and selling it to the grid, producing approx 15GWh per annum. This is enough to power 3,500 houses or the equivalent of the local town of Nenagh.
Chairman of the Templederry group John Fogarty said “Local ownership of wind farms is vital to the regeneration of rural Ireland. Exporting our energy will enable local children to attend third level colleges, generate investment, support local businesses and secure the long term viability of our community”
This project was a long time in the making. A feasibility study was completed in 1999. With the help of Tipperary Energy Agency and LEADER funding, the community group purchased an anemometer to measure the wind speed. They hit many hurdles along the way which delayed the project from 2003 to 2011. These include grid moratoriums, expired planning applications and the financial crisis. In November 2012 the wind farm started producing electricity and is contributing to Ireland currently generating almost 20% of its electricity from wind.
Speaking at the opening Minister Rabbitte said ‘I am attracted to the novelty of this project, the novelty of the community connection. You should be proud of what you have delivered’.
Paul Kenny, CEO Tipperary Energy Agency and Green Leader of the Year said ‘Developing wind farms is a real challenge for any small organisation. Costly studies and consultants are often a barrier to communities and farmers. A new model like Templederry is needed. In Denmark and Germany most wind farms have an aspect of community ownership. Even if it is only 10%, it is still vital. The key challenge in Ireland is to engage communities in ownership or co-ownership of wind developments. People need to be aware that fossil fuels whether imported or otherwise bleed billions out of our economy every year and are slowly boiling our planet. We need a change and it should result in economic development in our rural communities, where it is needed”.