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Going with wind power

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Image of Michael and Sean Horan
Father and son duo, Michael and Sean Horan, believe their wind energy concept is the way forward for domestic and business energy, especially in the west of Ireland. They are pictured on the site of the first operational turbine in Ballintubber.
Going with the wind

Edwin McGrealMaking the most of now
Edwin McGreal

IF you’re a regular user of the N84 from Galway to Castlebar, chances are you will have noticed the wind turbine located just up from ‘The Store’ (Corrigans) in Ballintubber.
Renewable energy is coming more and more into vogue and in recent years options for people to provide their own micro turbines to supply their own power have come on stream.
The turbine at Ballintubber is one such example - providing a large amount of the power for the business premises of local electrician Seán Horan and he’s set up a new wing of his business as a supplier and installer for the ‘Proven Energy’ wind turbines.
The far from summery summer season we’ve had means the turbine is active almost all of the time - providing most of their needs in the summer and should provide all their power in the winter - so bad weather notwithstanding, it’s an ill wind that blows no good.
The cost of the turbine isn’t cheap - the one at Ballintubber comes in at €35,000 while ancillary site works can add to this but the Horans are confident that what they are offering is a quality product choice which will see a long-term return for the consumer.
The decision to go for such a business venture is moving slightly from their comfort zone but the Horans feel there is a market here.
Seán Horan has been in business as a mechanical and electrical engineering contractor for 42 years. The family business, which also employs his daughter Noelle and son Michael  has been a successful one but they’ve chosen to diversify.
“Wind energy and renewable energy is something that everyone will have to consider eventually and if you can provide your own energy with your own micro turbine then the potential savings are considerable,” explains Michael Horan.
“Also when you factor in the location of Mayo we are in a great position to utilise wind energy. Ireland is the best location in Europe for wind turbines. The west coast is the best area in Ireland and Mayo is the best location on the west coast. But up to now in Mayo we haven’t been maximising the (wind) energy available to us.”
Which brings us onto the specifics. Just how much can you hope to save?
“Well you cannot give a precise figure because it does depend on wind conditions,” says Seán Horan. “We’ve been lucky in the sense that the bad summer has kept the turbine going strong - if you want to call that luck! Weather permitting, and we have good wind conditions in Mayo, the turbine has the potential to provide all of your power.
“If the turbine generates more power than your house needs to use, then the ESB will actually pay you for that. That power will go onto the ESB grid and they’ll pay you 19c per kilowatt hour for the first 3,000kW exported to them annually.”
The turbine at Ballintubber is a 6 kilowatt variety, which has the potential to generate 1,000 kilowatt hours per month. A 3.2kw and 15kw are also available, depending on your needs. However the caveat is that you must have a suitable site - essentially one that is open, not blocked by housing or trees and therefore a site assessment is needed for potential buyers. But Michael Horan feels that anyone who does have a suitable site in Mayo will reap the rewards.
“Looking to the future resources of oil and gas are dwindling and as they do their cost will increase and it will become more and more prohibitive to use traditional natural resources. The sooner you go, the sooner you can start saving money.”
He also references Northern Ireland where users of micro wind turbines get paid for whatever electricity they put back onto the grid and also get paid for what power you use from the turbine for your own use.
“They see it as one less person using their resources so they are willing to reward you. If the Irish government were to take such an enlightened approach, then the savings from wind turbines would be greater still.”

The Horans are having an open day this coming Saturday at their wind turbine site in Ballintubber from 2-5pm. More info on 094 9030895