Minister upbeat at Irish inauguration

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Cark wind farm near Letterkenny, Donegal, has been opened officially by Joe Jacob, Ireland's Minister of State at the Department of Public Enterprise. The 15 MW project was developed by UK companies Renewable Energy Systems (RES) from England and B9 Energy Services from Northern Ireland.

The 25 Micon 600 kW turbines began operating in December and will meet 14% of Donegal's annual electricity demand. Jacob referred to the project as another success story from the first round of Alternative Energy Requirement (AER) renewables subsidies. "AER I has been the catalyst for the birth of the modern renewables industry in this country and I have every confidence that significant growth will follow on from my recent announcement of the winners of the AER III competition," he said.

He pointed out that he expects 20 wind farms to be operating in Ireland by 2000. The minister drew attention to the recently announced review of options for meeting Ireland's energy needs over the next 10-15 years. This is to include a review of renewable energy strategy and will result in a Green Paper on sustainable energy.

Jacob says he is approaching the policy paper with an open mind. "We have invited submissions, we have targeted key players in the sector and key influencers outside the sector for their views on where the paper should go. We are intent on its publication as quickly as possible." Submissions to the review should be made by June 30. He expects to publish the paper before the end of the year

The RES/B9 team has now built six wind farms in Northern Ireland and the Republic.

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