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Green Atlantic windfarm will create up to 600 new jobs

BETWEEN 50 and 100 jobs will be created to provide a new €50 million Synchronous Compensator in Moneypoint Power Station as part of the ESB’s exciting new €5 billion Green Atlantic development, reports Dan Danaher.

This Synchronous Compensator, which will be the largest of its kind in the world, will provide a range of electrical services to the electricity grid, which would previously have been supplied by thermal-fired power stations. Its operation will enable higher volumes of renewables on the system.

While Moneypoint plant manager, Sean Hegarty was unable this week to provide an exact number of new jobs in advance of signing this major new work contract for the site, he estimates a major construction of this scale usually requires between 50 and 100 people. It is estimated the construction of the new offshore windfarm will create up to 600 new jobs, pending planning approval. This new Synchronous Compensator will be sub contracted to a major manufacturer who may employ local labour.

In an interview with The Clare Champion, Mr Hegarty said he expected a contract for the new Synchronous Condenser would be signed this week. Mr Hegarty confirmed the Green Atlantic development would use a West Clare phrase “keep the blue sign” hanging in Moneypoint and secures the future of the power plant.

“Moneypoint is a premier energy site in Ireland with a deep water port. We have 440 acres and are connected with the highest capacity lines into Dublin. The two 440 kv lines transports electricity into Dublin and the East Coast where there is a high demand. Having the necessary grid infrastructure is a key advantage for the Moneypoint site,” he said.

More than 90 employees are currently employed on the Moneypoint site, which also hires sub contractors on a regular basis and between 50 and 100 for a major overhaul during the summer.
With the current workforce retained until coal burning ceases in 2025, Mr Hegarty said proposals have been put forward to provide grid security post 2025, which is for other parties such as the government to decide how long this will continue. He believes Moneypoint can play a key role in terms of fuel security after 2025. In a worst case scenario, Moneypoint can provide a back-up electricity supply for the country for 90 days.

The station manager revealed the Synchronous Compensator has been in the pipeline for two to three years. He confirmed a decision was taken to move the Synchronous Compensator to a new site, which resulted in a second planning application about a year ago. He expects that a community fund will be established if the new multi-billion euro offshore wind farm is approved.

This compensator will see 130 tonnes of a flywheel running in a vacum when it is built. He explained the new compensator will help the plant provide grid stability without burning any fossil fuel and doesn’t produce any carbon emissions. He estimated the new off-shore wind farm will cost multiple billions of euro while the new hydrogen plant will involve an investment of hundreds of millions.

In addition to listening to details of last Friday’s announcement virtually, he confirmed staff have been regularly briefed on new opportunities on the site and were provided details about Green Atlantic by ESB chief executive, Pat O’Doherty about three weeks ago.

According to planning documents submitted to the local planning authority, there is no combustion associated with the condenser and no emissions or fuel requirements. The documents stated there is no potential for the project in culmination with other planned or approved projects to result in negative effects on the environment.

The provision of a synchronous condenser on the southern boundary of the site occupying 0.4 hectares within the boundary of Moneypoint. The development once operational will facilitate the increased generation of renewables on the transmission system and support the transmission system during faults.

It will also address the ongoing transmission constraint in the Moneypoint region, which the condenser will resolve more economically and without the emissions of existing thermal generation.
The development is of limited scale, extent and visability and will be located against the backdrop of the existing industrial facility.

The current site has been chosen as a more suitable location for installing the facility as it will be able to utilise the adjacent generator step-up T4002 transformer, rather than needing to install a new transformer and it will be able to use the existing underground cable connection from T4002 to the 400 KV substation. ESB stated this condenser will allow for increased renewable energy generation connecting onto the electricity grid thereby supporting the network.

Meanwhile, speaking at a West Clare Municipal District meeting on Friday, chairman, Councillor Joe Garrihy described the Green Atlantic development as fantastic news and a “game changer” for West Clare.

Councillor Garrihy said the multi-billion investment by the ESB would help turn around the fortunes of Moneypoint and transform it into a renewable energy hub for the country. He pointed out this development would also boost tourism and help tourism promotion in the county, “It was some of the most positive news we have had in a long time especially in the context of our worries around the closure of Moneypoint. We had many special meetings about Moneypoint.

“It is a tribute to former chairmanBill Chambers who oversaw a number of special meetings in the municipal district and with the ESB around the future of Moneypoint, which were convened by the rural directorate. We met with the ESB and said we wanted to see something else in place for the creation of electricity on the Moneypoint site. We did help to concentrate the minds and did our best to represent the areas where plant employees are residing.”

Councillor Gabriel Keating said the announcement was great news for West Clare and looked forward to the start of work on this major development.

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