Existing Moneypoint workers will be prioritised when new jobs come on stream as part of ESB’s ambitious Green Atlantic plans which have the ability to lead to “huge knock-on effects” for West Clare and the wider region.
Construction of the first offshore wind farm on The Atlantic Ocean is set to heighten The Shannon Estuary’s standing when it comes to renewable energy. 84 percent of homes in the country will be powered from Moneypoint when the windfarm is operational, 2028 has been set as the target for this.
Plans also include an investment in a green hydrogen production, storage and generation facility at Moneypoint towards the end of the decade. Moneypoint’s existing plant will continue to operate until 2025.
Next month, ESB will break ground on a new €50m Sustainable System Support facility, this Synchronous Compensator will be the largest of its kind in the world. The compensator will be carbon free and 130 tonnes which will facilitate renewable energy being put onto the national grid without burning fossil fuels.
As first reported by The Clare Echo, there will be 600 jobs involved in construction of the new facilities. It is expected that the existing workforce of over 100 at Moneypoint will increase following the multi-billion euro investment, the amount will depend on the quantity of developers that avail of West Clare to build windfarms. Alternative methods to carry out community engagement are being analysed by ESB.
Moneypoint plant manager, Sean Hegarty believed the uniqueness of the development would increase the amount of developers using Moneypoint to build windfarms. “Countries don’t build a multiplicity of these types of infrastructure, they are expensive to set up and they need certain facilities such as the deep water jetty and the large acreage on the short-front, it is unlikely Ireland will build a large number of these so I expect we will have developers who will be interested in using the site”.
Speaking to The Clare Echo, Sean confirmed that existing employees will be viewed first when it comes to the new posts. “We will look internally for who we have in Moneypoint and what retraining opportunities there are for people, there is a great opportunity for internal staff who are still with us at the point that this becomes realised”.
Coal burning will continue at Moneypoint until 2025, arguments to have the power plant as a back-up facility until 2028 are expected. After this, the plant and chimneys will be demolished with the hydrogen storage facility to be built subsequently.
Living in Clare since 1999, Sean felt Moneypoint could become the Irish equivalent to what Aberdeen was in Scotland as a result of North Sea Oil and Gas. “Moneypoint has the opportunity to be the anchor for this new industry in Ireland”. He added, “There is an enormous resource there, it will happen on our doorstep, the boost for Clare between all the supply chain jobs and the potential for education, it has to be massive”.
Attributes of having the deepest port in Europe outside of Rotterdam strengthen this potential, the Fermanagh native felt. “Having a windfarm of that scale which can power 80 percent of homes in the country, if nothing else that is a huge amount of energy coming from one location and presents huge opportunities. That is huge alone but it can be bigger if others choose to use the location. On its own it is a multi-billion investment”.