Business

Five new wind farms open in Antrim and Tyrone as SONI warns of electricity supply shortfall

Energia's Altamuskin windfarm in Co Tyrone
Gail Bell

GREEN power generation firm Energia has begun supplying energy from five new wind farms in rural Antrim and Tyrone, which between them are supplying a total of 73 megawatts of energy capable of powering 36,000 homes.

Located at Longmountain and Glenbuck in Co Antrim and at Altamuskin, Eshmore and Gortfinbar in Co Tyrone, the new facilities mark the culmination of years of development work and construction by Energia, which has invested £600 million in wind farm projects to date.

The two Antrim facilities will generate 27.6mws (Longmountain is the largest) and 9mws, while the three in Tyrone will generate 14mws, 6.9mws and 15mws respectively.

Peter Baillie, managing director of Energia Renewables, said: "We're proud of our achievement in opening these five new wind farms, coming just a month after after we opened the biggest wind farm in Ireland so far at Meenadreen in Co Donegal.

"This takes Energia to more than 1,000 megawatts of wind farm power purchase agreements, which account for 26 per cent of all windfarm offtake across Ireland."

The wind farms operate community benefit schemes run by Community Foundation NI and will be significant contributors to local authority rates, after having already created a number of permanent jobs.

Energia Renewables is among the island’s leading providers of sustainable green energy, with 25 per cent of Ireland’s wind power provided through Energia to homes and businesses.

The opening of the farms comes as the latest generation capacity statement from System Operator for Northern Ireland (Soni) indicates that electricity demand in the north is likely to remain stable up until 2026.

There were fears that the decommissioning of existing generating plant due to emissions restrictions may mean there is not enough electricity supply to meet demand from 2021.

But the report emphasises that the commissioning of the proposed north south interconnector would alleviate the pressure and ensure the north's medium-to-long-term electricity supply remains secure.

Soni general manager Robin McCormick said: "While we are not forecasting significant growth in demand for electricity in Northern Ireland in the coming years, the report highlights the ever increasing urgency for delivery of the interconnector."

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