Wind energy is Ireland’s main renewable source but the location of farms on peatlands - a key carbon sink - is causing concern among scientists and nature groups.
Ireland has Europe’s largest concentration of wind farms on blanket bog, with almost 10% of all turbines installed since 2008 placed on blanket bogs, mainly in the western uplands.
While wind has a key role to play in the State’s shift away from fossil fuels, peat soils must be drained for new roads and foundations, and peat is also excavated to make way for the turbine bases. This leads to the release of carbon dioxide and degradation of nature habitats.
While it is argued the overall footprint is offset by the renewable energy produced, Irish and international peatland experts have questioned the carbon payback potential.
Impacts on peatlands have already gained national attention with the most high profile, the Derrybrien peat slide in 2003, causing serious environmental, climate and infrastructural damage. Since then, several peat slides linked to wind farm developments have occurred.
Conservation groups have also voiced concern over the impact on protected bird species from the building of wind farms on raised bogs in the Midlands.
HELP US INVESTIGATE
We want to build a detailed profile of wind farms on peatlands across Ireland, investigate impacts during construction, examine expert and local concerns and find out how industry has responded.
We will also speak to peatland and energy experts to determine if wind farms on peatland in pursuit of a green energy transition is undermining climate and biodiversity targets.
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