*Photograph: Joe Buckley

SCOPING A POTENTIAL green hydrogen plant in Shannon is to be explored as part of a new project which is among the first of its kind in the country.

ESB and the Shannon Airport Group have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to explore the development of a hydrogen lighthouse project in the environment surrounding the airport’s site.

Development of a sustainable green hydrogen plant at Shannon to demonstrate the use of hydrogen in aviation, heavy goods transport and industry, and as a lighthouse model for the net zero integrated energy system of the future is to be studied as part of the project.

Hydrogen refuelling and battery electric vehicle charging in a single location are among the focuses of the work, aligning with the EU’s ambition to have a hydrogen refuelling station every 100 km along both the core and comprehensive Trans-European Transport Network by 2028. It would also offer the potential for use in the testing and development of Sustainable Aviation Fuels and for use in local industry.

CEO of the Shannon Airport Group, Mary Considine expressed confidence this could be “an enabler for the development of a hydrogen ecosystem in the Shannon Estuary region”.

She stated, “Innovation has always been at the heart of our business and this partnership with ESB to explore the potential for a hydrogen testbed in Shannon, aligns with our Sustainability Strategy goal to invest in smart and innovative infrastructure. Decarbonising the transport industry is vital, and hydrogen will likely play a key role in the harder to decarbonise sectors such as heavy goods transport and aviation”.

Jim Dollard, Executive Director, Generation and Trading at ESB underlined that it was “another milestone in our hydrogen exploration plans and commitment to achieving net zero emissions by 2040. Collaborations such as this with The Shannon Airport Group are critical as we work together to identify opportunities and solutions for the use of green hydrogen in providing a pathway for the decarbonisation of heavy transport, industry, and aviation”.

Both ESB and the Shannon Airport Group will now work on concept developments as part of the Lighthouse Project including high-level design, site identification, considerations for safety, the environment and planning, and engagement, locally, with those interested in the development of hydrogen.

Lighthouse Projects are projects which demonstrate the use of hydrogen in hard to abate sectors such as heavy goods and long-distance transport, aviation, shipping and power generation. Such work acts as a blueprint for the net zero integrated energy system of the future.

Vast potential of the resources in the Shannon Estuary will also be demonstrated. A critical part of ESB’s Green Atlantic at Moneypoint project is to develop a green hydrogen production, storage and generation facility at the Co Clare site towards the end of the decade.

Clare TD, Cathal Crowe (FF) described the partnership as ground-breaking with both parties to target the development of a cutting-edge hydrogen plant at Shannon Airport. “This is a massive, massive announcement for Shannon Airport. If all goes to plan, this would see the a sustainable green hydrogen plant explored for Shannon, to demonstrate the use of hydrogen in aviation, heavy goods transport and industry, and as a lighthouse model for the net zero integrated energy system of the future. Simply put, Shannon Airport and the Midwest region would be at the very centre of moves towards a sustainable model of aviation”.

Deputy Crowe added, “The aviation sector is at a key juncture at present, with widespread moves towards net zero carbon emissions, and for our airport here at Shannon to be leading the way in Ireland is phenomenal. Decarbonising the transport industry is vital and hydrogen can play a major role in achieving this”.

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