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2025 date stands for Moneypoint


Minister Eamon Ryan rules out extension of power plant’s use in current guise despite fears over supply of energy

HOPES that Moneypoint Power Generating Station could stay open longer than the proposed 2025 shutdown in its current form to deal with power shortages have been dashed by Minister Eamon Ryan.
Eirgrid has warned that Ireland won’t have enough electricity to meet demand for the next five winters, if action isn’t taken.
In a key report, the company outlined this is due to the closure of older power plants and a rise in demand for electricity.
The report has promoted the Commission for Regulation of Utilities to recommend that older power stations, which were due to be decommissioned, are kept open to boost supply.
Deputy Michael McNamara highlighted concerns about what will happen when Moneypoint ceases to burn coal in four years’ time.
Like the Transport Minister, Deputy McNamara looks forward to the Moneypoint plant becoming a green energy hub. The Independent TD said he hopes hydrogen will be manufactured there using energy generated by harnessing the power of the Atlantic.
In the meantime, he pointed out the plant is scheduled for closure in 2025.
“The minister suggested that decision might be revisited given the energy shortages. Will he give us an update on that? At the very least, will he assure us that we will not be importing energy because if we import energy, we will be importing energy generated from coal?
“Britain has ramped up coal-powered stations in response to the energy shortage. France and Germany also have such stations.
“In the short term, what is going to be done about our energy shortage? Will Moneypoint be part of the solution? Will the Minister assure us that we will not be importing coal-generated power from other countries?
Minister Ryan admitted Ireland has a problem with energy security because some of their gas-fired power stations have been down.
“It is likely that Moneypoint will continue to operate up to 2025 to provide back-up power when the wind is not blowing or other gas-fired generators are not available for any one of a variety of reasons,” he said.
“I do not envisage it operating beyond 2025. I will be pushing my Department, the Commission for Regulation of Utilities, CRU, which is the energy regulator, and others to try to ensure we have the flexible open-cycle back-up capacity needed to give us balancing power, rather than having to rely on Moneypoint.
“Neither Moneypoint nor the station at Tarbert are suited to that role. The plants were designed to run constantly rather than to be switched on and switched off. They take a long time to heat up and do not work well in that sort of flexible back-up role.”
Minister Ryan referenced conversations he had at the North Seas Energy Cooperation conference about Ireland’s future energy opportunities.
“All the talk at that conference was about Ireland having opportunities for export because, particularly on the west coast, we have that power and we should be, and are, thinking about how to export it.”
The ESB recently confirmed Moneypoint was used more frequently in recent months because of the lack of availability of power supplies from other providers.
In a statement issued to the Clare Champion, an ESB spokeswoman confirmed Moneypoint continues to generate electricity and respond to system demand in line with electricity market requirements.
She outlined the Killimer-based plant is being called on to run more frequently in recent months due to the non-availability of gas plant from other market participants and some extended periods of low wind on the Irish system.
The ESB recently announced ambitious plans to transform Moneypoint into a renewable energy hub over the coming decade and in parallel with that the company will consider how Moneypoint might provide backup power to contribute to Ireland’s security of supply should the electricity system require it.
A security of supply review is currently being undertaken by the Department of Climate Action and the Environment, and the ESB will engage in that review as it develops.
The ESB has also awarded the contract for the engineering, procurement and construction of the new €50 million Synchronous Compensator in Moneypoint Power Station to Siemens Energy Limited.
Awarding this contract is seen as the first phase in the ESB’s plans to transform Moneypoint into a new green energy hub, which includes the proposed development of a new wind farm 16 kilometres off the Clare coast.
A range of renewable technologies will be deployed on the Moneypoint site over the next decade with the capacity to power 1.6 million homes.
Manufacturing of the main electrical and mechanical components for the compensator commenced earlier this year, and works on site commenced in August.
These works continue apace with more than 50 people currently working on the project and 12 people located on site preparing for foundation construction and civil infrastructure. ESB engineers inspected the flywheel forging in Italy in September and the equipment will now transfer to Mullheim, Germany for test running prior to shipping to Ireland.
Installation of the main equipment will take place in April 2022, commissioning of the new plant is planned for mid-2022, with commercial operation in October 2022.

by Dan Danaher

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