Irish wind farms had a strong start to the year, with a new record for the most electricity ever produced in the month of January.
The January Wind Energy Report showed that 41% of the country’s power came from wind last month, up 9% on January 2022.
However, the industry warned delays in the planning system were slowing the delivery of new wind farms.
Wind farms produced 1,479 gigawatt-hours of electricity last month, up 200 GWh on the previous January best, and the seventh best month on record for wind power.
This is equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of around 320,000 Irish families.
CEO of Wind Energy Ireland Noel Cunniffe said: “This is a very strong start to the year and builds on a strong final quarter of 2022 when wind energy was Ireland’s number one source of electricity.”
He said that Ireland needs to accelerate the delivery of new wind farms and to do this the Government needs to invest in the planning system.
“Projects are spending more than a year waiting for decisions on applications for planning permission,” Mr Cunniffe said.
“We have no hope of reaching our 2030 targets without a functioning planning system and to do that we urgently need to see massive investment in An Bord Pleanála, the National Parks and Wildlife Service and key environmental NGOs to ensure applications can be quickly assessed and decided on.
“The pipeline of projects is there, the investment is there, but everything is slowed down by an under-resourced planning system that is completely unfit for purpose.”
The average wholesale price of electricity in January was €162.16, down more than €100 from December’s average of €276.52, but still far higher than before the fossil fuel energy crisis.
Prices fell even further on days with the most wind power when the average cost of a megawatt-hour of electricity was €133.69, rising to €196.41 on days where Ireland had to rely on fossil fuels.
Mr Cunniffe said Irish wind farms protect consumers every day by pushing expensive gas generators off the system and reducing our dependency on imported fossil fuels.
He said: “But our families, communities and businesses will remain vulnerable to extreme electricity prices while we are forced to depend on imported fossil fuels.
“The quicker we can build wind farms and reinforce the electricity grid, the more we can do to help consumers.”
The results of the report are based on EirGrid’s SCADA data compiled by MullanGrid and on market data provided by ElectroRoute.