Turbines at Ireland’s largest coal-burning station, Moneypoint have been out of operation for three months.
A forced outage at the facility in Kilrush, Co Clare has seen all three coal-filled units out of action and subsequently no electricity generated by coal at the plant since October. The latest EirGrid data highlighted that the grid is running almost exclusively from gas (44 per cent) and renewables (43 per cent).
When contacted by The Clare Echo, ESB released a brief statement which read, “ESB does not comment on operational matters of our generation plant, other than through the formal market disclosure channels”.
Moneypoint is one of the largest power generation stations in Ireland and the biggest stand-alone emitter of green house gases on the island. It supplies 16 percent of the country’s electricity needs but for the past fifteen weeks has been out of the picture. During this period, the supply was coming from Tarbert which hadn’t been used in the previous year and also Tynagh in East Galway. The mild winter weather and high winds also assisted with 73 percent of the demand at one stage being met entirely by wind energy.
Turbine three was taken was taken offline in June, the second followed on September 26th and unit one was taken down days later. Each has a capacity of 305MW. Engineering issues came to light during planned works on two turbines in the spring of 2018. Combined, they have a total of 250 million hours use.
It was expected that turbine three would be available for use on Sunday but this has been reschedule for 4:30pm on Monday. Unit 1’s return to use date is January 14th with the final turbine expected to be back available at the beginning of April.
Environmentalists have been calling for the closure of the facility which employs 194 people to significantly reduce Ireland’s carbon emissions.
Over a quarter of a million tonnes of coal can be stored at Moneypoint which would see it run at full tilt for 85 days offering a valuable backup reserve as Ireland is set to become increasingly dependent on the UK for gas imports with the scheduled closure of Kinsale gas field in 2021. At present 51 percent of Ireland’s electricity comes from gas and the planned Celtic Interconnector which will hook the island to France won’t be complete until 2025 at the earliest if it goes ahead.