Wind power fuels NI course


Sean Dudley

Wind power is saving money for a golf course in Northern Ireland.

Whitehead Golf Course, at the edge of Belfast Loch, erected two 15 kW turbines on site in October 2009, at a cost of £100,000. Half the funding came from the UK’s Carbon Trust, and the course is set to make about £13,000 a year on its investment, with £5,000 in saved electricity bills and £8,000 in Renewal Obligation Certificates – the government incentives which reward green electricity generators who export power to the National Grid in Northern Ireland.

“The fundamental reason we put them in was to try and reduce our energy costs,” said Whitehead trustee and past president David Maxwell. “We happen to have a very good site, at the top of the course, on a hill, about 400 feet above sea level. We look over Scotland on a clear day and the Isle of Man.”

The committee agreed to the installation – even though it meant investing £50,000. Maxwell’s case was helped by data from an engineer at the University of Belfast indicating wind speeds and anticipating turbine productivity. 

Maxwell said he would strongly encourage other courses with the right location to investigate wind energy as a means of reducing costs. “The most important thing is the site has to be right. It can’t be too flat or near sea level,” he said. “You really need to have a site that is really exposed. The perimeter of Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales – the coastline is well suited. Also, get the numbers – ask what you can expect.”