For Ireland, 1997 was a year of unprecedented wind energy development. Six wind farms were built, totalling over 44 MW. Added to the 6.45 MW wind farm already built at Bellacorick in County Mayo, this brings the country's total installed wind capacity to 50.6 MW. Wind now accounts for around 1.3% of the country's installed generating capacity -- a figure that will rise to some 1.7% when five wind projects currently being built or soon to begin construction are commissioned.
Danish turbine supplier Vestas dominates the Irish wind turbine market, accounting for an impressive 66% of machines installed in 1997, and 58% of all turbines erected to date. Moreover, Vestas looks set to maintain its prime position after securing two further contracts for demonstration of its new 660 MW turbine under the European Union's 1996/1997 Thermie programme.