The ESB has entered pre-application consultations with An Bord Pleanála for its planned offshore wind turbine fabrication facility at Moneypoint power station in Co Clare.
The ESB has been working on plans that will see Moneypoint – the country’s only coal-burning power plant and Ireland’s largest power station – transformed into a green energy hub.
The ESB has previously stated that it will cease burning coal at Moneypoint in 2025.
However, the power plant has remained a crucial part of Ireland’s energy infrastructure as the country copes with surging energy demand and the slow roll-out of offshore wind farms. The Government has been blamed by power companies for the delays.
Last October, Environment Minister Eamon Ryan insisted that Moneypoint will not operate beyond 2025, despite the already significant challenges in meeting electricity demand.
Last year, ESB announced plans that will see the power station become a key renewable energy facility in its transition away from fossil fuels.
Part of those plans involve the construction of a 1.4GW wind farm off the coast of counties Clare and Kerry. It would be able to power up to 1.6 million homes.
The ESB had been working on that scheme with Norway’s Equinor. However, late last year Equinor exited the Irish market. The ESB said it remained committed to the offshore wind project.
The discussions with An Bord Pleanála are focusing on the ESB’s plan for a fabrication facility for the construction and assembly of floating offshore wind turbines. The consultations are taking place under strategic infrastructure development planning rules.
The ESB wants Moneypoint to become a major centre for the construction and assembly of floating wind turbines.
It has said that a deep-water port at Moneypoint makes it an ideal staging ground for the construction of its wind farm.
“In the longer term, the development of Moneypoint will support wider plans of Shannon Foynes port and… help make the Shannon Estuary a focal point for the offshore wind industry in Europe,” the ESB said last year as it launched its Moneypoint initiative.
The ESB is also planning to invest in green hydrogen production and storage at Moneypoint. It plans to produce hydrogen from renewable energy that will be used for power generation and to fuel heavy vehicles.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has served to again highlight the need for energy security and independence.
A significant number of offshore wind farms are planned around Ireland’s coast and the Government has a plan to have 5GW of offshore wind energy facilities operational by 2030.
SSE Renewables has called on the Government to increase the target.
Later this year, seven offshore wind farms that are planned for Ireland will be able to apply for planning permission for the projects under new legislation that was recently introduced.
Those projects include the North Irish Sea Array, which will stretch from Co Louth to Co Dublin.