Section 9: Infrastructure
Question: How can the County Development Plan support the relevant external agencies in the provision of electricity, gas, water and wastewater, renewable energy and telecommunication and broadband infrastructure?
Support the relevant external agencies in the provision of renewable energy;
Kilkenny County Council can support external agencies by devising policy and creating strategic zones where value added is created. This can be achieved by combining the external agencies assets and interests in one area, especially where they overlap with national roads and areas with high potential for renewable energy. This could take the form of an enterprise zone and could be used for example to attract data centres. Please see recent Government statement 'Government Statement on the Role of Data Centres in Ireland's Enterprise Strategy'2.
Clean and green energy is now a primary enabler for foreign direct investment (FDI) and is becoming a 'must' condition for RE100 companies3. Kilkenny can be uniquely positioned to capture the spill over business (especially in data centres) from the greater Dublin area by assessing suitable areas for enterprise zones in proximity to renewable energy developments, along with gas, water and wastewater, telecommunication and broadband infrastructure. Kilkenny is a vibrant, attractive city with heritage and cultural amenities and is well positioned to attract FDI investments.
In addition, several state bodies have long involvement in rural communities and rural development and over time they have created man made landscapes over large areas. This can be seen with Bord na Mona in the case of harvesting the bogs and with Coillte in the case of rotating forestry. Such agencies should be encouraged to use their resources and land to also generate renewable energy. Project Ireland 2040 notes that forests play an important role in helping with climate change mitigation. Forestry is a major carbon sink and in combination with the generation of renewable wind energy could make a significant contribution towards national targets. We also understand that there are plans afoot for utilisation of farm biogas.
4. Feasibility of wind energy generation at scale in County Kilkenny
ART Generation has long experience of promoting and developing renewable energy projects and has methodically assessed the potential of all 22 areas identified as being suitable for wind energy generation in Kilkenny in Appendix J of the County Development Plan 2014 - 2020, ‘Wind Energy Development Strategy’ (WEDS).
By objective assessment of the wind resource, ease of grid connection, synergy with existing wind farms, separation distances from houses, landscape and environmental considerations, areas that have development potential for the development of small and large wind farms should be identified. Assessments undertaken by ART Generation found that there are a number of sites in the county that meet the criteria for the development of small and large wind farms. The identified areas with most potential comply with the following site selection criteria:
* Areas with a good wind resource.
* in relatively close proximity to the national grid where there is capacity to accommodate a wind farm and where it is straight forward to connect, ideally via
an existing 38kV sub-station.
* Area that is sparsely populated allowing good separation distances between houses and turbines.
Area that achieve significant setback distances to local and recreational amenities.
* Upland areas comprising mostly commercial forestry interspersed with pockets of marginal agricultural land, i.e. manmade landscape and does not contain
any of the protected views or highly scenic areas identified in the County Development Plan.
* Areas with generally modified habitats and not designated as being of ecological significance. Ground conditions and topography are favourable due to the
absence of steep slopes and deep peat.
* Areas with good road access for the transportation of major equipment.