*Photograph: John Mangan
MONEYPOINT will continue to function as a reserve electricity supplier until the end of this decade.
Clare County Council has received confirmation from the ESB that as part of a proposed suite of measures to address the medium term security of electricity, Moneypoint will serve as an out of market generator of last resort from 2025 until 2029.
In the event of a shortfall in generation capacity that could threaten overall consumer supply, Moneypoint will be called into action by Eirgrid.
As part of ESB’s commitment to cease coal burning activities at the country’s largest electricity generating station by 2025, the facility will be converted to run on oil for this period, subject to a grant of planning permission.
Once Moneypoint is no longer required as a generator of last resort , the existing thermal generator at the plant will be decommissioned.
Officials from EirGrid in a briefing before the Economic Development Strategic Policy Committee (SPC) of Clare County Council in March stated that an approximate €3.5bn needs to be spent developing the grid up to 2030 with Moneypoint still viewed as offering excellent transfer capabilities.
At the beginning of September, ESB took delivery of a massive shipment of coal from a controversial mine in Colombia. The bulk carrier, the Golden Incus, left Moneypoint at the start of this month after workers spent almost two weeks unloading it.
180,000 tonnes of coal can be carried on the Golden Incus which departed the Colombian port of Puerto Bolivar in the Guajira region where the Cerrejon coalmine is located in late July. The Cerrejon mine, one of the world’s largest, has long been the subject of complaints about environmental damage and human rights abuses, including the displacement of indigenous people. The mine’s owners have always rejected the allegations and stressed the employment opportunities it offers in one of Colombia’s poorest regions.
ESB has repeatedly defended its purchases from Cerrejon, saying it engages with the mine on various issues through its membership of Bettercoal, an industry group set up to promote improvements in mining practices for workers and their communities.
ESB had stopped sourcing coal from Cerrejon for a time, buying from Russia instead. “Russian coal accounted for almost all of the coal consumed in Moneypoint in 2021,” the company said. “Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in spring 2022, ESB put in place alternative sources. Based on the availability of coal in the global marketplace at various points in time, ESB purchased coal from Australia, Colombia and South Africa for use at Moneypoint through 2022 and 2023. Moneypoint station requires a specific grade of coal and ESB has been assessing suitability of coal from various mines across the globe for future use at the plant”.