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Coal will be burnt at Moneypoint until government confident it can securely replace plant with renewable energy. Photograph by John Kelly.

ESB takes Moneypoint offshore wind plan to An Bord Pleanala


Formal plan for offshore wind facility won’t be before board for two years while tanaiste says coal-burning plant won’t be decommissioned until country is is confident it can replaced with secure renewable supply

THE ESB has put its plan before An Bord Pleanala for a production facility for off-shore wind-turbines at its Moneypoint power station in west Clare, writes Gordon Deegan.

In a notice published by An Bord Pleanala, it confirms that the ESB is now engaging with the appeals board in pre-application consultation for its planned fabrication facility for the construction and assembly of floating offshore wind turbines.

The pre-application consultation is required under the Government’s Strategic Infrastructure Development (SID) system and is a prelude to formal plans being lodged with An Bord Pleanala.

The production facility for the off-shore wind-turbines is part of the ESB’s overall multi billion euro Green Atlantic at Moneypoint programme that is to transform the power station site into a green energy hub.

The pre-consultation concerning the planned off-shore wind-turbine production facility is to continue until June 20.

However, it is likely that formal plans for the off-shore wind turbine production facility won’t be put before the appeals board for another two years.

This follows a spokesman for the ESB confirming on Thursday that the ESB is targeting the first quarter of 2024 to have a planning application lodged for the offshore wind-turbine manufacturing facility.

The spokesman said that the ESB has this target with the intention to have a facility readiness date of end 2026/beginning 2027 subject to a successful consenting and environmental licensing outcome.

The spokesman said that “Moneypoint will become a centre for the construction and deployment of floating wind”.

He said: “A deep-water access point already exists at the site, making it an ideal staging ground for the construction of wind farm components.”

The spokesman said that the facility “will generate a significant number of direct jobs in the Mid-West region”.

He said: “As we develop the Moneypoint site we also expect hundreds of construction jobs will be created. This work will include onshore floating wind hub construction, offshore floating wind farm construction, operations & maintenance and hydrogen production plant development.”

The spokesman said “as with any such large-scale project, the local economy will benefit significantly,” and the development of Moneypoint will help make the Shannon Estuary a focal point for the offshore wind industry in Europe.

The spokesman said that currently Moneypoint power station continues to generate electricity and respond to system demand in line with electricity market requirements. 

He said that the coal burning station “was called on to run more frequently in 2021 due to the non-availability of gas plant from other market participants and some extended periods of low wind on the Irish system”.

In line with ESB’s strategy and the national Climate Action Plan, ESB plans to cease electricity generation from coal at Moneypoint by 2025.

He said that in parallel to the Green Atlantic @ Moneypoint plans “we will consider how Moneypoint might provide backup power to contribute to Ireland’s security of supply should the electricity system require it”.

He said: “A security of supply review is currently being undertaken by the Department of Climate Action and the Environment and ESB will engage in that review as it develops.

At Leader’s Questions in the Dail on Thursday, Tanaiste, Leo Varadkar told Michael McNamara TD (Ind) “it is not our intention to close Moneypoint or Tarbert until we are ready to do so”.

The Tanaiste told the Clare TD: “I do not like the fact we are burning coal in Moneypoint, I do not like the fact we are burning oil in Tarbert, but we do actually need to do so and we may need to do so for many years to come.

He added: “Those plants will not be decommissioned until we are confident we are able to replace them with secure supply and secure renewables. That might take a bit of time but that is very much the plan.”

Speaking following Leader’s Questions, the Clare TD said, “I welcome the Government’s confirmation that it will maintain operations at Moneypoint and Tarbert for the foreseeable future until alternative energy sources are put in place. While I look forward to that day, and the decarbonisation of our energy supply, that will not take place within the next three years.”

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