Hydro-Electric Plant Or Wind Farm For Silvermines?


Mr Alan Kelly, the well known Tipperary Minister for Privatising Irish Water was not present yesterday to announce the decision by C&C to obliterate and demolish the rural village of Borrisoleigh, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

As our readers are aware some 120 employees of the former Gleeson’s bottling plant in Borrisoleigh village were informed yesterday – not by their employer C&C – but by members of the national press, that they would find themselves on an ever increasing Tipperary dole queue, by the summer of 2016. (C&C made generated revenue of €684m in the 12 months to the end of February last year and reported an operating profit of €115m.)

Ah yes how true of the poet Oliver Goldsmith, in the lines from his poem ‘The Deserted Village’.

“Sweet smiling village, loveliest of the lawn,
Thy sports are fled, and all thy charms withdrawn;
Amidst thy bowers the tyrant’s hand is seen,
And desolation saddens all thy green.”

Mr Kelly yesterday was still rubbing his chubby little hands after his previous day’s announcement of a proposed €650 million hydro-electric plant for the rural hamlet known as ‘Silvermines’ in Tipperary, just a mere 14 miles from Borrisoleigh and just weeks before a General Election.

Not yet at the planning stage; this proposed hydro-electric plant would, sometime into the future, offer to create 400 construction jobs, not to mention 50 permanent maintenance posts, while using a disused mining site. Hailed as being one of the largest infrastructural projects in Irish history; the news came conveniently fronted by Mr Kelly, prior to the Irish General Election, due in the next few weeks, possibly Feb. 26th. (Latter, according to a fly on the wall in Dáil Éireann’s Cabinet Room, was reportedly delayed by Mr Kelly’s Labour Party, against the wishes of their glorious leader Mr Enda Kenny, who had hoped for an early election in November 2015, following on from a budget that gave Irish Old Age Pensioners a €3 weekly increase and increased their box of fags by 50 cents.)

The partnership behind this €650 million hydro-electric zero-emission plant proposed for a rural village, where buses no longer run, are understood to includes Irish developer Siga Hydro, Irish construction company Roadbridge, construction groups Sisk, and Austrian construction and technology companies named Strabag Group and Andritz Hydro.

Project Director and Nenagh-based businessman Mr Darren Quinn, managing director of Siga Hydro stated that he had identified the need for such a development some six years ago and had now chosen the Silvermines area because of its mountainous location; the existence of a 70-metre deep reservoir present since its mining days in the 1990’s, together with the areas proximity to an existing electricity network.

The very mention of an announcement of a €650 million investment for Tipperary ensured national press coverage for Minister Kelly. Silvermines residents were immediately jumping up and down flag waving, but the flag wavers turned out to be local publicans. Let’s be honest 400 workers, like others of the even-toed ungulate species, will always need to gather at a nearby watering hole for drinking purposes.

We read every available press release and glued our eyes to the TV.  Dublin people don’t understand why rural people in Tipperary bother to watch RTE, since we are rarely included. But, believe it or believe it not, we are always anxious to know where all of the jobs are materialising on a daily basis, hence our dedicated addiction.

Seeing reports of a €650 million investment bound for Tipperary being announced by Minister Kelly, latter a politician who in the last five years has achieved absolutely nothing for the towns in his constituency, in itself attracted unbelievable major pre-election attention. Was it an early April fool’s prank many of our residents pondered?  What is this hydro-electric plant thingamajig, those unable to afford the cost of a university education asked?

What is this Hydro-Electric Plant?

If planners give it the go-ahead, the Silvermines hydro-electric plant project will be the second pump-storage hydro-electric generator to be built in the Irish Republic, the other being the ESB’s Turlough Hill plant in Co Wicklow, which has been operating for more than 40 years producing 292 mega watts (MW) of electric power. The new Silvermines proposed plant will have the capacity to generate 360 mega watts (MW). (Nothing small ever undertaken here in Co. Tipperary you understand.)

How will it work I hear you ask? This is not a new idea, but like the existing Turlough Hill plant, water will be pumped from one source, starting at ground level and delivered to a reservoir higher up, which in turn will then be released through turbines that in turn generate electricity. [In the old day before electricity we used a similar principal on our flowing rivers, to turn a water wheel, using sluice gates. This water wheel ground our flour, hops and other feed stuffs in our corn mills of the late 18th and early 19th century.]

Now here is the problem, where does the hydro-electric plant get the electric power to pump the water from ground level to a reservoir high above ground level. Yes, pumped storage systems, like what is proposed, does use cheap night electricity to shove water from a downhill lake to an uphill lake, but it uses some two thirds of the power it previously generated.

Here however now ‘the devil may be in the detail’ as according to Irish News“The project would also allow wind energy to be deployed at night time during periods of less demand”. 

Are these words written on paper from a journalist in command of an over imaginative biro? Does this so called new project open up the prospect of yet another wind farm being built in an area of immense, wild, natural scenic beauty in Co. Tipperary?

Be careful Silvermines, you may just get what you did not request, finding that more than the noise of a westerly wind will be heard screeching around the corner of your home. (Watch Video above ensuring your speakers are turned down).  Presently there has been a surge in such projects in Ireland, as companies rush to take advantage of lucrative consumer subsidies, doled out by our present Government who strive to ensure that Ireland’s energy needs are met from renewable sources by 2020.

Build Wind farms out to sea, preferably off the coast of Dublin, instead of destroying our natural rural landscapes.

Our advise for young people residing in the Borrisoleigh area, sadly ‘Check that your passports are not out of date’.


1 comment to Hydro-Electric Plant Or Wind Farm For Silvermines?

  • Michael

    Who will benefit from the Hydro-Electric Plant?.The public see no benifit from all the wind farms.
    They will have to put a Wind Farm on the silvermines, you wait and see. How much does it cost to pump the water back up?

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