Moneypoint ‘should benefit’ from climate-change support funds

State to consider extending measures offered in areas affected by exiting Bord na Móna

The ESB has lodged a planning application for a new generator known as a ‘synchronous condenser’ at Moneypoint power station in Co Clare. Photograph: Neil Warner

The ESB has lodged a planning application for a new generator known as a ‘synchronous condenser’ at Moneypoint power station in Co Clare. Photograph: Neil Warner

 

The Government is to consider extending its “just transition” initiative aimed at helping workers in the Midlands affected by Bord na Móna getting out of peat production to those affected by Moneypoint power station in Co Clare ending coal use.

Fianna Fáil spokesman on climate action and Clare TD Timmy Dooley welcomed the commitment to consider just transition plans for Moneypoint communities.

He said Minister for Climate Action Richard Bruton “is open to proposals from the midwest region and will accept submissions from regional stakeholders which may need support in the context of a just transition”.

Budget 2020 put a focus on helping those most affected by moves aimed at lowering carbon emissions as the State attempts to step up its response to the climate emergency.

“The Government will invest €31 million in a number of key initiatives: €6 million for a just transition fund for reskilling workers and community development; €5 million for bog restoration and rehabilitation on non-Bord na Móna bogs; and €20 million to deliver a new model for group housing upgrades in the midlands,” said Mr Bruton.

Mr Dooley said that approach needed to be extended to Co Clare, where the ESB laid off almost 100 workers at Moneypoint this year, citing market pressures, carbon prices and increased renewable energy use.

“The Government has a duty to ensure no community is left behind when it comes to a just transition,” he said. “It is absolutely clear that west Clare is being disproportionately impacted. It faces many of the same risks and challenges as the midlands.”

Renewable energy

Meanwhile, the ESB has lodged a planning application for a new generator known as a “synchronous condenser” at Moneypoint which would have the ability to take a variety of renewable energy sources on to the grid.

“The primary benefit of this equipment is that it enables the transmission system to operate securely and efficiently while facilitating increased renewable energy,” said a spokeswoman.

Asked if this meant the ESB would have significant generation capacity at Moneypoint post-2025, the spokeswoman replied that the company recognises the role it plays “in supporting the local economy and, at a national level, delivering secure, reliable and affordable power”.

She said Moneypoint occupies a prime location on the electricity system “and we are confident that it will continue to play a key role in Ireland’s future low carbon energy system”. The ESB is examining technology options beyond 2025 to deliver large-scale electricity generation, fuel diversity and security of supply.

“However, the development of replacement generation for Moneypoint is contingent on a project being commercially viable and able to compete successfully in grid capacity auctions.”

Moneypoint staff have accepted a proposal that aims to ensure an ongoing operation at the west Clare plant though it is due to cease coal use by 2025.