*Photograph: Páraic McMahon.
AN AGREEMENT has been signed between ESB and Eirgrid which will see Moneypoint available as an out-of-market generator of last resort from 2025 to 2029 running on oil.
In 2021, ESB announced Green Atlantic at Moneypoint, which will see the site redeveloped into a renewables hub which will include the commissioning of one of the largest Synchronous Condensors in the world, a 1,400 MW offshore wind farm, delivered in two phases, a wind turbine construction and service hub plus the development of green hydrogen production, storage and generation facility
In the transition period between 2025 and 2029, subject to planning approval, ESB intends to make Moneypoint available to operate in emergencies only, using oil rather than coal. In this context, ESB intends to apply to An Bord Pleanála for permission to allow Moneypoint to transition from coal to an oil fired station on or after 12th February 2024.
This new agreement is in response to a security of electricity supply need identified by Eirgrid and the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU). As an out-of-market generator of last resort, Moneypoint will be available to operate, at the instruction of Eirgrid, as a backup to the system when a shortage of generation capacity in the market threatens the security of electricity supply to customers.
To allow Moneypoint to provide this back up power generation service, ESB requires an update to Moneypoint’s planning permission to enable the station to operate on 100 % oil rather than coal.
Reduced carbon emissions is among one of the main benefits in making Moneypoint available to operate on oil for this emergency period. Moneypoint will see reduced operation for the 2025-2029 period as it will only be used when the electricity system is tight on supply.
Operating on oil is viewed as a temporary arrangement to meet the security of supply needs of the system and will not impede either ESB’s redevelopment for Moneypoint into a renewable energy hub, Green Atlantic at Moneypoint or ESB’s commitment to achieving Net Zero by 2040.
Public consultation in respect to this application runs for a seven-week period commencing on Monday (February 12th).
Speaking to The Clare Echo, Clare TD Michael McNamara (IND) stated, “It’s a sensible proposal, the idea that we could just shut down Moneypoint was always daft until there is a reliable alternative source of energy for the company, there’s a lot of exciting proposals for floating offshore but unfortunately they are no closer now than at the start of Government’s term”.
Deputy McNamara said, “There is huge potential and huge interest in it but until such time as offshore windfarms are developed and it’s brought on shore we’re going to need more traditional sources of energy and I am glad that ESB are recognising that. The move from coal to oil is cleaner and more suitable”.
Energy production will continue in Moneypoint “into the indefinite future,” he said. “This is a stop-gap measure but it is scheduled to 2029 but it is expected that it will be a lot longer than that I think you will see employment in energy generation for a long time after 2029”. The agreement “acknowledges the reality that Moneypoint will be at the centre of energy generation in Ireland for the indefinite future”.