Moneypoint is to become the country’s flagship offshore wind energy development.
The Clare Echo has learned that a proposed 270km2 development of a floating offshore wind farm is to be developed. It will be situated off the coast of Clare and Kerry in what is viewed as a major lift to West Clare and the wider county’s economy.
Between €1m to €1.5m had been received by Clare County Council in commercial rates from ESB’s plant at Moneypoint, the transition towards offshore energy will ensure this is sustained to some extent. There had been disappointment last year when units at ESB Moneypoint did not prequalify for the T-4 auction for the period October 2024 to September 2025, representing the loss of a crucial contract for the power generating station.
Expected capacity output from the development has the potential to power up to 1.5 million homes across the country. When completed, the total project capacity is anticipated to be between 1GW – 1.5GW.
Reports indicate that up to 600 jobs could be created including those involved in the construction of the project.
ESB are set to make an announcement on Friday on future plans for Moneypoint. Earlier this year, ESB and Equinor applied to the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage to allow site investigation for the proposed Moneypoint Offshore One Wind Farm and its grid connection. Norwegian company Equinor were formerly known as Statoil. They have been involved in an extensive site selection process since 2019.
Sources in the local authority have informed The Clare Echo that the project is to proceed to planning in the near future.
Speaking to The Clare Echo, Deputy Michael McNamara (IND) detailed that the project would be delivered in two phases. “The first phase, Moneypoint Offshore One is located 16km off the Clare / Kerry Coast. The expected capacity from the first phase is estimated to be 400MW with the final windfarm area likely to be in the order of 70km2. The second phase, Moneypoint Offshore Two would be located a further 20km west of Moneypoint Offshore One, taking the total project capacity to between 1GW – 1.5GW. The latter phase would have a likely area of 200km2”.
“As the project develops, it is hoped to be able to take advantage of the excellent wind conditions and excess energy generated to produce climate-neutral, hydrogen fuel which could eventually replace oil-based fuels in vehicles and transportation,” the Clare TD added.
If the site is deemed suitable, planning permission is anticipated to be sought under the terms of the Marine Planning and Development Management Bill which is due to be enacted this year. The development is included in various objectives of the Clare County Development Plan and the Strategic Infrastructure Framework Plan (SIFP) for the Shannon Estuary which has been developed by Clare County Council, Kerry County Council, Limerick City and County Councils, Shannon Group and Shannon Foynes Port Company which is expected to maximise its chances of getting the green light.
Transitioning ESB Moneypoint from coal to renewables will see the continued supply of electricity generation from the West Clare plant but from a cleaner energy source, Deputy McNamara believed. “With the coal plant due to cease operation in 2025, the flagship floating offshore wind development wind farm is expected to connect into Moneypoint substation and utilise the spare capacity available following the coal plant closure.”
Moneypoint can play a central role in Ireland’s future low-carbon energy system due to its important location on the electricity system, McNamara stated. “Moneypoint is situated on the coast, on the Shannon Estuary. It has two large networks that leave it and cross the country in arcs, one going to the north of Dublin and the other to the south of Dublin. It is, essentially, irreplaceable in terms of the national network. It is perfectly placed for the development of an offshore wind energy project, and for helping Ireland fulfil its renewable energy commitments”.