THE north-west of Mayo looks set to become the renewable energy capital of the county after a Cork-based renewable energy company revealed plans to apply for planning for a seawater-pumped hydroelectric energy scheme.
The project - which would be based at Glinsk near Belderrig - aims to store excess energy from the electricity grid, and would be located close to a number of approved windfarms, which have not yet been built. These plans are among many renewable energy proposals based in north-west Mayo with plans to harness wave energy near Belmullet at an advanced stage
The type of project proposed is what is envisaged in Mayo County Council’s Draft County Mayo Energy Strategy which is expected to be launched in the coming months. The aim is for the county to become self-sufficient in energy with the harnessing of renewable energy an integral factor in this strategy.
“We need to be able to harness the power to convert it into electricity and distribute the power throughout Mayo and export it if needed. Once we get power, the county will flourish and increase its competitiveness and be able to attract the hi-tech industries and bring our graduates back to Mayo. Renewable energy can give us the edge during these difficult times,” Director of Services, Joe Loftus told a recent SPC meeting on Planning and Economic Development.
The project has been proposed by Organic Power Ltd who have already begun site investigations and plan to lodge an application with the Council in June. Maurice McCarthy of Organic Power Ltd explained that a similar-type sea-water-pumped hydroelectric energy storage scheme has been working successfully in a national park in Japan since 1991 and the Atlantic would be used as the ‘lower reservoir’ to the land-based structure on the Glinsk upland.
“The stored energy will be returned to the grid through turbines for use during peak times in the morning and evening, or generation emergencies, thus significantly reducing the national need for imported fossil fuels that are required to keep gas, coal and oil-fired power stations running,” Mr McCarthy said.
If it was approved, the design of the 480 MW scheme would store excess power in the reservoir system during off-peak night-time hours, or when generation exceeds demand. Mr McCarthy said the scheme is designed to accept up to one-third of the projected surplus night-time wind power produced in Ireland when the national target of 5,000MW of wind turbines is achieved under Government policy by 2020. He added it should significantly expedite the delivery of the wind energy target by providing a high-voltage transmission grid connection to the northwest.