Bord na Móna, set up 75 years ago to harvest the State’s peatlands, has announced plans to develop the first Irish dedicated renewable-energy business park as it continues its transformation into a climate solutions group.
The semi-State company said that the so-called energy park will be developed on more than 7,400 acres of its landbank in counties Meath, Offaly and Westmeath.
It is expected to potentially co-locate over 200 megawatts (MW) of electricity, generated by renewable sources such as wind, solar and green hydrogen production, beside companies that will be based in the business park, close to Junction 3 of the M6 motorway at Rochfortbridge, Co Westmeath.
Bord na Móna expects to lodge a planning application for the development in the next 18 to 24 months and will begin consultation with local communities this week. A spokeswoman for the company declined to say how much the project would cost to deliver.
Bord na Móna, led by chief executive Tom Donnellan, expects that the energy park will be attractive for industrial and high-demand energy users such as large-scale distribution facilities and data centres. It said that the co-located approach is more sustainable, has lower environmental impact and a more optimal use of grid assets.
The company set off on its transformation to a climate solutions company in 2018 and confirmed last January that it had formally ended all peat harvesting on its lands.
“The climate emergency is the greatest challenge we face today, and the Bord na Móna energy park is another important step to creating a more sustainable future for Ireland,” Mr Donnellan said.
He said that the project would reduce Ireland’s reliance on national grid infrastructure and “increase self-sufficiency and energy security in the country while meeting the needs of the national and regional economies”.
The project will make a significant contribution to the State reaching its climate goal by 2030, which is to cut climate emissions by 51 per cent from their 2018 levels, he added.
Bord na Móna aims by that stage to be supplying a third of Irish homes with renewable energy, having set out last year to raise €1.6 billion to fund a series of climate-action projects across its 200,000-acre landholding.