Wind Energy Ireland Sustainability Strategy launched

[Source: Wind Energy Ireland]

The below article was written for Wind Energy Ireland. Read more on their website.

A little over ten years ago Ørsted, a Danish wind farm developer, was building the Anholt wind farm around 15 kilometres off the Danish coast. They were moving large sea boulders to make way for wind turbines and the cables needed to connect the wind farm back to the mainland. Then they did something different.

Rather than just getting rid of the boulders they used them to build 25 artificial reefs scattered throughout the wind farm. Today, a decade later, these reefs teem with life, a perfect breeding ground for fish, sea anemones and a variety of fauna that has transformed a rocky seabed into a celebration of marine biodiversity.

This is the renewable energy future we believe in, one where wind farms are not just cutting our carbon emissions, but protect, support and enhance the natural habitats in which they are built.

Over the next decade we will build dozens of new onshore and offshore wind farms in Ireland. Each of these will help cut our carbon emissions and end our dependency on imported fossil fuels.

But a true transformation means not just a move from fossil fuels to renewable energy, but a complete change of mindset, away from an approach to producing energy based on extraction and exploitation, where nature is sacrificed and communities ignored, and to one based firmly on the principles of the Sustainable Development Goals.

That is why our team has worked with Change By Degrees to produce Wind Energy Ireland’s first Sustainability Strategy. We are committed to working together as a staff team to reduce waste, run our events more sustainably, cut our own travel emissions and to build an inclusive and diverse organisation culture.

Read the strategy now

But that is not enough. While we are a small organisation we represent a large, and growing, industry employing almost 6,000 people. Together, we provide more than a third of Ireland’s annual electricity needs and the infrastructure we use to do this has its own impact on the environment.
We need to build wind farms, we need to lay cables and install foundations. Ireland needs renewable energy infrastructure. But we have to find ways to do this sustainably, to do it in partnership with local communities and in concert with nature.

In this strategy we set out how we will encourage and support our members to make sustainability a hallmark of Irish wind energy. We will develop new policies, showcase best practice and celebrate those leaders in our industry who never stop challenging us to do things more sustainably.

Our members are leaders in Ireland’s response to the climate emergency. But we must also respond to the twin, and related, challenge of a global biodiversity crisis. We have a responsibility to get involved in protecting our natural and marine habitats, ensuring that we find ways to have a net positive impact on nature and we have no time to lose.

Writing about how we respond to the global climate and ecological crisis Greta Thunberg wrote:

“Together, we can still avoid the worst consequences. We can still avoid catastrophe and start to heal the wounds that we have inflicted. Together, we can do the seemingly impossible. But make no mistake – no one else is going to do it for us. This is up to us, here and now. You and me.”

This sustainability strategy sets out how we will help to accomplish the ‘seemingly impossible’; it will be a core part of how we run our organisation and lead our industry. It is the benchmark against which our actions and our words must be judged. We will not be found wanting.

Noel Cunniffe
Wind Energy Ireland

Read the strategy now