PHASE ONE of ESB’s plans to turn Moneypoint into a renewable energy hub has received the thumbs up from the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan (GP) who also announced that a replacement for Equnior is to be unveiled in the near future.

During a visit to Moneypoint on Friday, Minister Ryan welcomed ESB’s investment in a new €50 million synchronous compensator. This technology will enable higher volumes of renewables on the system and provide a range of electrical services to the electricity grid which would previously have been supplied by fossil fuel-fired generation.

He stated, “This is at the forefront of a new green revolution in renewable energy”. He added, “It’s the biggest one of these in the world, it’s the leading world example”

This investment is Phase One of Green Atlantic, ESB’s ambitious project to transform its Moneypoint site into a renewable energy hub, helping Ireland to become a leader in green energy production. The multi-billion-euro project will see a range of renewable technologies deployed over the next decade, including floating offshore wind and green hydrogen production and storage, that will have the capacity to power 1.6 million homes while representing significant investment in the Mid-West region.

Equinor had committed to overseeing the multi-billion euro works with the ESB, but pulled out of the project a year ago, citing concerns with the regulatory and planning regime in the State.

Speaking in Moneypoint, Minister Ryan said ESB are in ongoing discussions with “some really good partners” to replace the Norwegian company. “A good number of developers have come to ESB and are really serious about replacing Equinor, the ESB are going through a process of reviewing those to pick the best partner. That (Equinor leaving the Irish market) was unfortunate but it wasn’t in anyway a sign that we won’t proceed with this”.

A replacement partner will be announced in the near future, he confirmed. “There are about 70 international developers interested in what we’re doing and the reason is, it’s not rocket science, we’ve some of the best wind resources in the world and we also have good expertise in it, we know how to develop wind power, you have to get the environmental planning right but there is a huge interest in what we’re doing, it’s one of the windiest places on the planet and that is what we have to tap into”. Separately, he said the first auction for offshore wind will take place before Christmas.

Siemens Energy Ltd. was awarded the contract for the engineering, procurement and construction of the synchronous compensator. Manufacturing of the main electrical and mechanical components took place in 2021 and the successful installation of the main equipment was completed earlier this year. The equipment has successfully synchronised to the electricity system and is in the final stages of grid-code testing. Once in full commercial operation, this will be the first synchronous compensator in Ireland and its flywheel will be the largest of its kind anywhere in the world.

It will be capable of providing 4000MWs (mega-watt seconds) of inertia which is the equivalent of two existing Moneypoint units. Jim Dollard, Executive Director, ESB Generation and Trading, said: “At ESB, we are committed to delivering new technologies that will transform our generation portfolio, at sites like Moneypoint, to a dispatchable and zero-carbon solution in order to meet Ireland’s need for non-intermittent sources of energy”.

Nick O’Mahony, Managing Director of Siemens Energy Ltd outlined that they were “extremely proud to be the technology provider and project contractor for Ireland’s first synchronous compensator. Over the past 18 months we have worked with our customer ESB through pandemic and supply chain challenges to deliver this critical grid stabilising technology on time. We are especially delighted that Ireland has been the destination for the largest synchronous compensator flywheel ever installed. Siemens Energy is currently delivering many energy transition projects in Ireland and is committed to helping Ireland and ESB achieve its climate-related targets”.

Due to the intermittency of wind energy, grid stabilisation technologies have an increasingly important role in a successful energy transition. The synchronous compensator will enable the system operator, EirGrid, to manage the transmission system safely and securely with a reduced dispatch of fossil fuel plant under constraints and reduced costs of transmission operations.

The Moneypoint synchronous compensator with flywheel is a cost-effective and zero carbon solution – strengthening the stability and resilience of the Irish grid and supporting ever-more renewables coming on stream – in line with ESB’s Driven to Make a Difference: Net Zero by 2040 strategy.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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