McNamara seeks ESB Moneypoint role in future offshore energy projects

Clare Independent TD Michael McNamara is asking the Government to place ESB Moneypoint in County Clare at the centre of any future plans by Government to develop offshore energy in Ireland.

Deputy McNamara was addressing Hildegarde Naughton, TD, Minister of State at the Dept. of Climate Action and Transport in the Dáil today about the Cabinet’s plan for Ireland to pay €50 million to Denmark and Estonia for a “statistical” transfer of renewable energy to make up for a shortfall in our output of green power.

He criticised the Government for seeking to source power from offshore energy projects in Europe at a time when no similar projects were being advanced by the Government in Ireland.

“I accept Ireland is not meeting the renewable energy targets and must do something about it in the short term. However, if we continue the way we are going now, we are going to be back here in ten years’ time with exactly the same story. I want a task force to be set up to look at the reality that renewable energy is going to have to come out of Moneypoint. It has to be a part of the story,” Deputy McNamara told the Dáil.

He continued, “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. I would have expected a greater degree of urgency than has been seen to date to develop offshore energy and to research tidal and wave energy. The estuary is a relatively shallow basin and has some of the highest waves and tides in Europe, along with the Bristol Channel. I would like to see State-sponsored research into that as a matter of urgency and not something that comes up as a footnote in a debate around Ireland not fulfilling its renewable energy commitments.”

He added, “The Government is not going to be able to build a pylon network of the sort that is traversing the country, coming from Moneypoint. We all know the pylon difficulties across the country. There are pylons there. Moneypoint is situated right on the coast. That is an advantage that the Government needs to take cognisance of and move forward with a degree of urgency that I have not seen to date.”

Commenting on the news last week that 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, Deputy McNamara said, “I received a response to a parliamentary question a couple of weeks ago and since then, the Government has announced that the lifespan of the power station is to be further curtailed and I do not see any plan to replace it. It needs to be replaced for the economies of Clare and Ireland but with what are we going to replace it?”

In response to Deputy McNamara’s comments in the Dáil, Minister of State Naughton said, “The Government is committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050 and an annual reduction of 7% in overall greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, including through maximising the amount of renewable energy on the grid. Future advances and system flexibility, storage technologies, including batteries and green hydrogen, as well as regional and international interconnection, will enable high levels of renewable electricity on our grid.”