Shannon Estuary set to become what Aberdeen was to North Sea oil

Moneypoint project will allow Ireland to become net exporter of renewable energy

A graphic representation of the revamped deep-water port at the Moneypoint site in west Clare.

A graphic representation of the revamped deep-water port at the Moneypoint site in west Clare.

 

Far from salvaging a soon-to-be redundant coal-fired power station, the ESB’s announcement of a new role for Moneypoint opens up two crucial fronts.

The west Clare facility will be the base to build and service the Atlantic’s first offshore windfarm. And it facilitates a big move into green hydrogen production, harnessing the carbon-free gas from a 1.4 gigawatt floating windfarm – set to be the biggest in Europe off Clare and Kerry.

Not only is ESB accelerating its decarbonisation, it will help transition the economy, given the windfarm, when its two phases are completed after 2030, will have capacity to power 1.6 million homes and to save 1.8 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year.

With Ireland importing 80 per cent of its energy (oil, coal and gas), this multibillion investment “turns this figure on its head”, according to ESB chief executive Pat O’Doherty,while allowing Ireland to become a net exporter of renewable energy.

The windfarm arises from a partnership forged with the Norwegian company Equinor, and brings to seven the windfarms in ESB’s offshore portfolio. Two fixed windfarms are being built with Park Wind off Co Louth, with the remainder in Britain and Ireland under the Equinor partnership.

Considerable know-how stems from ESB’s involvement in the Galloper offshore windfarm off Suffolk, and Neart na Gaoithe and Inch Cape Offshore in Scotland. Reassurance comes with HYWIND, Europe’s first floating windfarm developed by Equinor, which is the most efficient in the UK.

With the Atlantic having the highest average wind speeds in Europe, Equinor’s expertise in turbine design will be critical to successfully operating in such a hostile environment.

Moneypoint is a perfect fit for tapping into where most future Irish power is potentially located.

Hydrogen production costs may be prohibitive in most current scenarios, but that is about to change as economy of scale is realised.

The Shannon estuary is set to become Ireland’s offshore wind equivalent to what Aberdeen was to North Sea oil.

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