On Friday 24th January almost 400 people gathered in Clontarf Castle, in Dublin to honour the men and women working in the wind industry in Ireland, who are making this climate defence possible.
- 12 awards presented on the night – highlighting innovation, excellence in training, work in communities, education initiatives, health and safety and the coveted ‘Champion of Renewables award.’
- Winner of the ‘Champion of Renewables Award’ is former Director for Renewables, Energy Efficiency and Innovation at the Directorate General for Energy of the European Commission, Marie Donnelly. Marie is also Chairperson of Renewable Energy Ireland, a partnership of sustainable energy associations working collectively to support the energy transition in Ireland.
- The award for ‘Wind Energy in the Community’ was presented to Galway Wind Park (SSE / Greencoat Renewables) for their education programme which has funded 40 local students on their journey to third level (40 students in 2019).
- An ‘Exemplary Health and Safety’ award was given to Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy forward thinking mental health initiative – which aims to have mental health first aid on a par with traditional first aid and equally funded / supported.
- ‘Best Project’ of the year was given to a Oweninny wind farm, a joint ESB-Bord na Móna project, in Mayo and its plans for a €3 million local visitor and community centre which will become a tourist hub for north Mayo.
Dr David Connolly, CEO of the Irish Wind Energy Association, said: “Last year was a pivotal one for Irish wind energy. In the Climate Action Plan we have, for the first time, an all of Government vision for how we can decarbonise Ireland’s electricity system.
“Wind energy provided a record-breaking 33 per cent of Ireland’s electricity in 2019 which is one of the highest shares worldwide – in fact third just after Denmark and Uruguay. It is at the heart of the Climate Action Plan with targets set for 3.5 GW of offshore wind energy and to double our onshore wind generation capacity to more than 8 GW by 2030.
“We know our industry can deliver these targets. These awards celebrate the men and women working in the wind industry who will achieve them, who are making possible Ireland’s fight against climate change.
“Through their innovation and determination, we are seeing huge positive benefits – from investment in local communities, the thousands of people employed in our industry and in cheaper wholesale electricity prices.”
Winner of the ‘Champion of Renewables Award’ Marie Donnelly, accepting her award, explains the importance of wind energy for Ireland:
“It’s a real honour for me. I appreciate the recognition that this award implies. And I think it’s an indication of where we are in Ireland with the energy transition. We have made great progress and we are now set to charge down the path of success here in Ireland. Renewable energy has come of age. The technology has matured and found its own place, costs have come down and efficiency is there. The reality of a carbon free system is in place.”
Voters say climate change will influence their decision on polling day – The Irish Wind Energy Association welcomed the results of an Interactions opinion poll, published earlier this year which found that 79 per cent of Irish people back wind energy. It also showed a majority of those polled – 55 per cent – said climate change would greatly or somewhat influence how they vote in the next election