Arty wind farms could enhance Irish countryside

Wind farms could spell the way for artistic expression, as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions and reducing dependency on fossil fuels, according to industry insiders.

The pieces of architecture that are now being unveiled in Ireland, such as two bridges that have opened amidst some local controversy recently, act both as a sculpture and as a functional piece of engineering.

Wind farms should be able to make the landscape more exciting in the same way, according to Tomas O’Leary, a partner at MosArt Landscape Architects.

“We need to bridge the gap between engineering and aesthetics,” Mr O’Leary said. “If we broaden our minds beyond simply generating wind energy then we can make them even better by design.”

He added that one of the main reasons for reviewing Ireland’s wind farm guidelines was to try to achieve just that.

“The existing guidelines for building wind farms are very conservative, but the new ones are far more positive and proactive – in line with Ireland’s national energy policy,” he said.

Although some sites were not suitable for development due to their sensitivity, through innovative placing, spacing and height, Mr O’Leary said they could enhance Ireland’s unique beauty, actually improving the vista in many cases.

It seems that MosArt’s vision of Ireland’s changing countryside will not come up against much opposition from the local people either. While around two thirds of Irish residents are pro wind farms, according to government figures from a recent national survey, only 10% of the people interviewed were actually against them.

Paul Kellett, manager of Ireland’s Renewable Energy Information Office, said it was lucky the Irish public felt so strongly in favour of promoting the country’s renewable power generation, seeing as it was the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in the EU.

Producing twice as many emissions as Sweden, Ireland still relies on burning oil for 50% of its energy production. Mr Kellett also confirmed that Ireland had one of the lowest energy self sufficiency rates in Europe, at just 10%. The average European country produces 50% of its own energy, and Nordic countries are now 70% self sufficient.

“The Nordic countries have greatly increased their energy self sufficiency by reducing demand and boosting renewable energy production within their own borders, and this is the path that Ireland will hopefully take,” he said.

By Jane Kettle

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