Third annual Irish Wind Awards – A celebration of innovators and leaders in Ireland’s fight against climate change
A large audience of leaders in Ireland’s wind energy industry gathered in Clontarf Castle in Dublin to celebrate the industry’s achievements of the last 12 months. The awards recognised the passionate, committed and growing network of people determined to play their role in leading the fight against climate change
The Oscar-style ceremony recognised the passionate, committed and growing network of people within the industry determined to play their role in leading the fight against climate change.
The awards, now in their third year, are designed to help showcase Irish wind energy and to give prominence to a field that is sometimes overlooked.
Among them a Young Person of the Year award winner, an excellence in training award for the many green jobs coming on stream, awards for community and education initiatives and the coveted ‘Champion of Renewables award’.
Dr Paul Deane, Champion of Renewables Award winner, said: “I’m so delighted to accept this award for my and my colleagues in MaREI. It is so important now to have independent voices in research. And to look to Ireland to play to our strengths to reduce our emissions, it’s not just about climate issues anymore, its about social issues and, as we have seen beyond our borders, it’s now about very relevant security issues.”
Noel Cunniffe, chief executive, Wind Energy Ireland, said that this year’s winners are an inspiring group of people working hard to drive sustainability through their organisations and he is proud to be part of an industry that is doing so much to tackle climate change.
“The quality of nominees and award-winners shows the wealth of talent we have in this space, a growing, passionate, committed and growing network of people determined to ensure that wind energy leads Ireland’s fight against climate change.”
“These awards provide a welcome opportunity to highlight the great work being done in the wind and renewable energy industry in Ireland. It shines a light on the innovation and leadership taking place across all areas of wind farm development.”
Cunniffe said that the crisis in Ukraine right now drives home the need to accelerate the push towards energy independence for Europe. “While Ireland relies very little on Russian gas, what is happening now exposes the vulnerability of our continent to being so dependent on a country that is invading its neighbour,” he said. “Every cent and every euro used to buy Russian oil and gas is paying for the missiles and the bullets being used on the people in Ukraine right now.”
Speaking about winning the two awards for Meenadreen windfarm, Peter Baillie, MD Energia Renewables said, “Winning these awards is great recognition for our team, that the very important work we do in the communities at our windfarms is delivering positive impact for local communities. We have invested over €2 million in communities through 7 community benefit funds across the island of Ireland, leading the way in ensuring a zero carbon Ireland that invests in communities and builds a stronger, energy independent Ireland.”
Wind Energy Ireland has just released its February Wind Energy report, which showed that wind energy provided 53 per cent of Ireland’s electricity in February 2022. This is the highest share of demand ever achieved by wind in Ireland.
Wind energy was also the number one source of electricity throughout the month and on February 5 set a new all-Ireland record for the amount of wind energy on the system at 4,584 MW.
“These results show the ever-increasing importance of wind energy and renewables for the Irish energy sector,” Cunniffe said. “It is vital that we bring through new wind farms as quickly as possible in the coming months and years to ensure we can consistently achieve figures like this if we are to meet the targets set in the Climate Action Plan.”
The report also highlights the importance of wind energy in cutting the price of wholesale electricity, with results showing that during the windiest periods of the month, wholesale prices were almost €100 cheaper per MWh than during less windy days, at €134.25 per MWh, versus €229.62.
“The fact that wholesale prices fall when wind energy production is high shows that wind energy will play an increasingly important role in the coming months, mitigating the worst effects of the predicted price increases for consumers due to spiralling fossil fuel import prices,” said Cunniffe. “The report also highlighted the dramatic increase in energy prices between February 2021 and 2022, with wholesale electricity prices rising almost three-fold.
“Wind energy is ready to lead the way to an 80 per cent renewable electricity system by the end of the decade and on to a zero-carbon electricity system by 2035.”
Cunniffe said that we are already racing against the clock to deliver on Ireland’s renewable energy potential. “It is essential that across government, we see the leadership and resources needed to achieve the delivery dates set out in the Climate Action Plan.”
Communities around the country receive a huge amount of money each year through wind farm community benefit funds.
“The 2020 report into community benefit funding shows the steady growth of our renewable energy sector. Last year, it contributed over €4 million to local communities in direct benefit funding,” said Cunniffe. “This is on top of the more than 5,000 jobs which wind energy is supporting in Ireland and nearly €50 million to rural county councils in commercial rates.”
These community funds support initiatives, clubs, sports and academic ambitions in the local area. “It is especially heartening to see the benefits communities felt during a difficult 2020 because of Covid, with the funds supporting care services, home comforts, and promoting exercise throughout counties in Ireland,” said Cunniffe.
“It is so important for people living close to wind farms to feel and see the direct benefits, not just in cleaner electricity and the wider climate change benefits, but in day-to-day improvements to their towns and villages.”
Shortlisted nominees and winners in each category
1. Wind Energy in the Community Award - sponsored by TNEI Ireland
Energia Renewables – Meenadreen Extension (Winner)
Bord na Móna – Mountlucas
2. Excellence in Construction Award (Electrical and Civil) - sponsored by Linxon
H&MV Engineering (Winner)
3. Excellence in Operation and Maintenance Award - sponsored by Height for Hire
Lagan Energy Engineering
4. Exemplary Health and Safety Performance Award -s ponsored by RWE Renewables Ireland
Adman Civil Projects (Winner)
5. Excellence in Training & Development Award -sponsored by Green Tech Skillnet
Kerry Education and Training Board
6. Outstanding Innovation Award - sponsored by Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy
Dublin Offshore (Winner)
7. Champion of Renewables Award - sponsored by Bord na Móna
Paul Deane – UCC (Winner)
Seamus Hegarty – Energia Renewables
Kevin O'Donovan – Statkraft
8. Best Professional Practice Award - sponsored by Vestas
Ionic Consulting (Winner)
Gavin & Doherty Geosolutions
9. Best Project Award - sponsored by Matheson Law Firm
Capital Dynamics, Castlegore Wind Farm
Enerpower – Kepak
ESB – Grousemount Wind Farm (Winner)
10. Young Person of the Year Award - sponsored by Greencoat Renewables
Sarah Hayes – Statkraft
Hannah Mulcahy – Statkraft
Cian Brogan – Energia Renewable Generation (Winner)
11. Sustainable Development Award - sponsored by Nordex Energy Ireland
Nature + Energy (Winner)
12. Overall Winner Award - sponsored by SSE Renewables
Winner: Energia Renewables Meenadreen Extension
13. Person of the Year Award
Winner: David Connolly
14. Special Covid Award
Winner: Ronan O’Meara, EnergyPro