A new windfarm, run by Airtricity, opened in Co Donegal today. There are 38 turbines at the site at Meentycat, near Ballybofey, making it the most productive wind farm in Ireland with an installed capacity of 72 megawatts.

It can produce more electricity than any other wind farm in the country and will generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of approximately 45,000 homes a year.

Latest figures from Irish Wind Energy Association show there are now 46 wind farms in Ireland, 36 of them in the Republic.

Donegal has witnessed an explosion in the development of wind farms since the first one came on stream at Barnesmore in 1997. There are now 12 wind farms dotted around the county with almost 150 turbines in operation.  Donegal has the highest mean wind speeds of any county in Ireland making it particularly suitable for generating wind power. 

Following the deregulation of the electricity industry, Airtricity developed the first privately funded wind farm in the Republic in Culliagh in Co Donegal in 2000. It now operates five wind farms in the Republic.

But all is not well in the industry. Airtricity is pulling out of the largest off-shore windfarm in Europe, due to the lack of  Government support for alternative energy.  The Arklow Bank windfarm was to be a €630m project producing 500 megawatts - enough electricity to power half a million homes.