Renewable energy and energy storage group, Gaelectric, has officially opened its £13.4million wind farm at Cloonty in Co. Antrim.
The 9.2MW wind farm is located between Derrykeighan and Bushmills and is Gaelectric’s fouth operating wind farm in Northern Ireland. The Company has 184 MW of operating wind farm projects on the island of Ireland across 10 projects, with a further five projects under construction.
Cloonty wind farm comprises four Enercon wind turbines, with a maximum blade tip height of 110 metres. It will generate sufficient green renewable power to meet the electricity demand of over 5000 homes on an annual basis. The wind farm will not only boost Northern Ireland’s renewable energy generation capacity, but it will also create jobs, support workforce skills and contribute to economic activity in the area. To date, the project has created over 20 full time and part time jobs during its development and construction phase.
“We are delighted to officially open the Cloonty wind farm development, our fourth operating wind farm in Northern Ireland” said Patrick McClughan, Head of Corporate Affairs for Gaelectric Developments Ltd. “This opening marks yet another important milestone for our business and further strengthens Gaelectric’s platform in the energy market. Our total permitted portfolio now stands at 140 MW in Northern Ireland and represents a total investment of approx £170million. This consolidates Gaelectric’s position as the largest indigenous renewable energy company in Northern Ireland, and we are proud to make a significant contribution to Northern Ireland’s renewable energy targets.”
The Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Alderman Maura Hickey, added that the wind farm will greatly enhance the amount of green energy already produced in the region. As well as this, it will have a positive economic impact through job creation and the Community Benefit Fund, which will provide financial support to local community and voluntary groups.
Gaelectric has also launched the Cloonty Community Benefit Fund, with the aim of supporting local community projects within the area so that local communities have the opportunity to share in the social and economic benefits of renewable energy development. The fund is independently administered and managed on behalf of the company by the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland and will provide grant support of between £500 and £5,000 to local community and voluntary groups which are delivering projects that support community cohesion in the area. Community projects will be able to access approximately £250,000 over the 25 year lifespan of the project.
In the last four years, Gaelectric has secured planning approval for nine Northern Ireland wind farm developments. The company’s first operational wind farm in Northern Ireland, the £20million 13.8 MW Carn Hill wind farm located in Newtownabbey, Co Antrim was officially opened in May 2013. The second project to be completed (Nov 2014) was the £58 million 42 MW Dunbeg wind farm, located between Limavady and Coleraine, and the third was £16.8million 12 MW Monnaboy wind farm on Loughermore Mountain in Co. Derry/Londonderry (Feb 2016).
Gaelectric is also leading the development of energy storage in Northern Ireland with a unique Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES) facility in Larne, Co. Antrim. The Larne CAES project is an energy storage project that will use compressed air energy storage technology (CAES) to store energy as compressed air in caverns specially engineered for this purpose within salt deposits located deep underground (1.4km-1.8km) at the northern end of the Islandmagee peninsula. The project will be capable of generating up to 330 MW of power for periods of between 6 and 8 hours, enough to meet the electricity needs of over 200,000 homes.
The Larne CAES project represents a significant investment in the energy infrastructure of Northern Ireland, enhancing both the energy security and the sustainability of electricity generation in Northern Ireland. The project is also a European Project of Common Interest (PCI) for transboundary energy infrastructure.
Established in 2004 and employing over 100 people, Gaelectric has offices in Belfast, Dublin, Manchester, Chicago, and Great Falls (Montana). The company currently employs 16 people in its Technical office based at Clarendon Dock in Belfast. The Belfast team is dedicated to all technical aspects of renewable energy development. Key activities include wind farm design; feasibility studies; land acquisition; site selection/evaluation; due diligence; grid feasibility study; and operations and maintenance.