By Niall McMahon
Letter in The Irish Examiner
August 1st, 2013
In response to the letter by Patrick L OíBrien (Jul 29), a few ideas.
About subsidies, we maybe agree. The guaranteed rate of payment for the supply of wind energy to the grid is a kind of regressive tax, ie we all pay, including the poorest, and the money is transferred to those who can afford to own a wind farm.
The hope is that such incentives will, in the long run, encourage the deployment of renewable energy. The aim is to provide a clean and secure energy supply and to minimise uncertain climate change - it seems obviously good to me. This is happening. At the same time, such subsidies ought to be cut after a time. Wind technology must be built to compete without additional subsidy.
We seem to disagree about technical aspects. The grid needs to be extended and rebuilt in any case; wind energy or not, itíll happen.
Although variable, wind is predictable, on average over long periods and in detail up to a day or so ahead. Itís possible to plan for both short and long periods and Ireland is, right now, doing that. Have a look at Eirgridís site.
Standby thermal plant efficiency is not really a problem with modern gas systems - achieving a mix of flexible, clean, technologies on a well designed, interconnected grid is.
Wind energy is surely not perfect but it does work. Finally, we must get our energy from somewhere and we must look out for our future.
We owe it to the next generation to try harder. Wind and renewables are about trying harder. As I see it, the cost benefit is pretty good.
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