The annual Building Communities report from Wind Energy Ireland has reported that wind farms delivered more than €4.3 million in funding to local projects last year through community benefit funds.

This marks an increase of over €300,000 on 2020 and reflects the continuing growth of renewable energy.

Funding was spread across 19 counties and was used to support a variety of local projects, ranging from education initiatives and sports clubs to installing solar panels and energy efficiency upgrades for community buildings.

Wind Energy Ireland CEO, Noel Cunniffe said:

“Wind farms invested more than €4.3 million in rural communities last year, helping to ensure people living nearby share in the benefits of the energy transition.

“Many of these fantastic local projects would otherwise struggle to find funding, demonstrating the positive impact that wind farms have in their communities alongside the benefits of cutting our carbon emissions and providing cheaper power to consumers.”

Use of funding from wind farms

The top five counties to receive funding in 2021 were Galway, Cork, Kerry, Mayo and Tipperary.

Among the recipients were the Cork-based Irish Community Air Ambulance, Ireland’s first and only charity-funded Helicopter Emergency Medical Service.

The group was one of 37 projects to receive funding from the 2021 SSE Renewables’ Coomacheo and Curragh Community Fund of almost €120,000.

Karen O’Sullivan, key relationships manager for the Irish Community Air Ambulance, stressed the critical role it played in ensuring equal access to healthcare for patients from rural communities.

“We are delighted to be receiving funding from SSE Renewables as this will enable us to continue our services,” she said.

“Support like this helps us to bring hope to those most vulnerable so they can receive equal healthcare to those living near cities and major hospitals.”

In Donegal, funding from the Energia Meenadreen wind farm community benefit fund allowed St. Francis’ National School in Barnesmore to install a sensory garden.

Meanwhile, in Tipperary, ESB donated €8,000 to the Cappawhite Community Council to support the activities of the Cnoc Rua Recreational Centre, a social centre for local older people that delivered meals to support its members during the Covid-19 restrictions.

Other projects to receive funding included the Moyvane Development Association’s Nature Walk Trail in Co. Kerry, which received €10,000 from Statkraft’s Kilathmoy Wind Farm, and Bruckana Community Gain Scheme Kilkenny, which split funding from Bord na Móna among schools, sports clubs, Tidy Towns groups and the enhancement of community facilities.