Irish electricity market operator ESB has unveiled plans to transform its Moneypoint site, where it has long operated a coal-fired power station, into a green energy hub at which a range of renewable technologies will be deployed
ESB operates across the electricity market, from generation, through transmission and distribution to the supply of customers with an expanding presence in the Great British generation market.
The ‘Green Atlantic @ Moneypoint’ plan will see ESB make multi-billion Euro investments at the site in floating wind, a construction site for floating wind, and the production of green hydrogen using renewable electricity.
It will also see the company build a €50M (US$59M) ‘Sustainable System Support’ facility including a synchronous compensator that will be the largest of its kind in the world. This new plant will provide a range of electrical services to the electricity grid which would previously have been supplied by thermal-fired power stations. Its operation will enable higher volumes of renewables on the system.
The 1.4-GW Moneypoint floating offshore windfarm will be developed off the coast of counties Clare and Kerry in two phases by ESB and joint venture partners, Equinor. Once complete, the windfarm will be capable of powering more than 1.6M homes in Ireland. Subject to the appropriate consents being granted, the windfarm is expected to be in production within the next decade.
Moneypoint will also become a centre for the construction and assembly of floating wind turbines. A deepwater port already exists at the site, making it an ideal staging ground for the construction of the windfarm. It is expected this will generate a significant number of direct jobs in the midwest region. In the longer term, the development of Moneypoint will support wider plans of Shannon Foynes port, and working with local stakeholders, help make the Shannon Estuary a focal point for the offshore wind industry in Europe.
ESB’s plans also include investing in a green hydrogen production, storage and generation facility at Moneypoint towards the end of the decade. Green hydrogen will be produced from renewable energy and used for power generation, heavy goods vehicles in the transport sector and to help decarbonise a wide range of industries such as pharmaceuticals, electronics and cement manufacturing.
ESB chief executive Pat O’Doherty said, “ESB’s Brighter Future strategy is anchored in our ambition to lead the transition to a low-carbon energy future, powered by clean electricity.
“The transformation of Moneypoint into a green energy hub will be a major step in achieving this and will bring huge benefits to the midwest and beyond.
“We have long signalled our intention to cease burning coal at Moneypoint. Today we are unveiling plans for a reimagined Moneypoint, which will not only create hundreds of jobs, but will also help Ireland to meet its climate targets and maintain secure supplies of electricity into the future.”
Green Atlantic @ Moneypoint is part of ESB’s ‘Brighter Future’ strategy and will contribute significantly to achieving the Irish Government’s target of a 51% reduction in emissions by 2030.
ESB executive director, generation and trading Jim Dollard said, “Today’s announcement is a significant milestone in ESB’s low-carbon journey, cementing our commitment to transforming our generation portfolio and ongoing investment in renewable energy technologies.
“Moneypoint has played a critical role in the country’s energy supply for almost 40 years. We are proud that it will continue to have a crucial role in Ireland’s energy future with many benefits for the local community and wider society.”
Moneypoint is one of the deepest ports in Europe. ESB said this is an essential element of the project, as the ships used to deliver wind turbines need to dock in a deepwater port. The presence of the deepwater port at the facility also allows for wind turbines to be brought back on shore for service and maintenance as required. Finally, the deepwater port will allow easy access for ships which will be used to export hydrogen to Europe.