The wind turbines at Gaelectric’s new £13.4million Cloonty windfarm have officially been named by four students from Straidbilly Primary School, Liscolman. The 9.2MW wind farm is located between Derrykeighan and Bushmills.
The four Enercon wind turbines will now be called ‘Spin MacCool’ (named by James Creith, P7); ‘Zephyros’, which means West Wind (named by Ella Nesbitt, P6); ‘Straidbilly Goliath’ (named by Lewis Fullerton, P6) and ‘Blade Runner’ (named by Lauren Currie, P7).
Patrick McClughan, Head of Corporate Affairs for Gaelectric Developments Ltd, the renewable energy and energy storage group, explained: “We are delighted that local students have named the wind turbines at Cloonty windfarm. These turbines are an important feature in the local community. The windfarm will not only boost Northern Ireland’s renewable energy generation capacity by generating sufficient renewable power to meet the electricity demand of over 5,000 homes on an annual basis, but it will also create jobs, support workforce skills and contribute to economic activity in the area. We would like to thank the students and teachers at Straidbilly Primary School for their wholehearted involvement in the competition.”
Ms Gillian McConnell, Principal, Straidbilly Primary School, continued: “The competition to name the Cloonty wind farm turbines has provided us with an opportunity to explore the area of renewable energy with our students. They very much enjoyed the experience of seeing the turbines up close, exploring the inside of them and finding out lots of fascinating facts. The pupils participated wholeheartedly in the competition – many interesting and original suggestions came through.
“Congratulations to the very worthy winners! We are very proud to have our students name these iconic new additions to our landscape. It is important that we take the opportunities to consider the impact that we have on the environment around us and explore ways how we can alter our behaviours to make sure that resources we have are sustainable well into the future. We would like to thank Gaelectric for providing our pupils with most enjoyable, worthwhile and meaningful experiences.”
Gaelectric will be continuing to support the local community in the Cloonty area through a dedicated fund as Mr McClughan, added: “It is important to Gaelectric that local communities close to the Cloonty wind farm have the opportunity to share in the social and economic benefits of this renewable energy development.
“To ensure this happens in a tangible way we have launched the Cloonty Community Benefit Fund, which has the objective of supporting local community projects within the area. Independently administered and managed on behalf of Gaelectric by the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland, the Fund will provide grant support of between £500 and £5,000 to local community and voluntary groups which are delivering projects that support community cohesion in the area. Community projects will be able to access approximately £250,000 over the 25 year lifespan of the project.”
In the last four years, Gaelectric has secured planning approval for nine Northern Ireland wind farm developments. The company’s first operational wind farm in Northern Ireland, the £20million 13.8MW Carn Hill wind farm located in Newtownabbey, Co Antrim was officially opened in May 2013. The second project to be completed (Nov 2014) was the £58million 42MW Dunbeg wind farm, located between Limavady and Coleraine, and the third was £16.8million 12MW Monnaboy wind farm on Loughermore Mountain in Co. Derry/Londonderry (Feb 2016).
Established in 2004 and employing over 100 people, Gaelectric has offices in Belfast, Dublin, Manchester, Chicago, and Great Falls (Montana). The company currently employs 16 people in its Technical office based at Clarendon Dock in Belfast. The Belfast team is dedicated to all technical aspects of renewable energy development. Key activities include wind farm design; feasibility studies; land acquisition; site selection/evaluation; due diligence; grid feasibility study; and operations and maintenance.