The subject of alleged man made climate change, wind energy, solar energy has been well discussed in the Media and on Politics.ie since 2010. I always claimed that the first mistake was the failure to assess the government plan for it and that there was a major flaw in how renewable energy's contribution was calculated. Energy is useless, we need power, not energy. Renewables don't produce power. Others (particularly those with leftist leaning views) thought otherwise. However, there was a most generous subsidy regime put in place which paid for energy, which together with other incentives lured investors. Notwithstanding these long term incentives, there were a number of serious flaws which were most evident in the case of industrial wind energy. The wind industry was driven by policy makers, not engineers.
The biggest flaw was that the load factor (actual output compared to potential output) was based on Eirgrid's Generation Adequacy Report 2010 - 2016 which claimed the wind blew at 33 MPH for 34% of the time. My immediate reaction was that this was false so I measured wind speed in 2008 and 2009 to find the real figure was 24.1% on high ground, but as low as 20% in Midland locations. Even at the high figure, income turned out to be only 70% of expectations, few businesses have a profit of 30%, there are costs. The business model of Mainstream Renewable Power was to obtain planning permission, construct the wind farms and connecting cables and sell as soon as possible. This showed no long term commitment, a warning sign. It worked once, would it work again?
Gaelectric raised debt of around a quarter of a billion euros building wind farms. They needed to sell this debt and they needed to acquire capital to continue in business. There were no takers at home and the political climate was changing faster than the real climate with Brexit and Trump. The Chinese were approached and sampled the goods. The type of leftism the Chinese do is tad more prudent than what western lefties do. The Chinese said OK, we will buy your debt, but if this business is sound, you will have no difficulty raising capital. Today's newspaper reports the Chinese are departed. Gaelectric is for sale. Lock stock and barrel.
A spirited campaign was mounted to stop it, to cut or block subsidies, to block planning permission and to counter all the hype. The next development was the entry into the marker of semi state Bord Na Mona and Coillte, both with large land banks. Ireland needs 6,000 mw of fossil fuel generation capacity, it has 10.500 mw and plans for 15,000 mw. There were plans to export subsidized electricity to the UK. Electricity prices rose from about 14 cent to 25 cent with 38 cent being a reasonable expectation in a few years. The wind industry called for more subsidies, all from consumers, but government was slow to respond.
Will Gaelectric get a buyer? I hope not. Will the EU investment bank buy it? Probably not. It looks like there will be no more new development from Gaelectric, just existing wind farms. If they are under performing to the tune of 30% and even 40% at some locations, who will buy? Its going to be a hard sell.