In November 2021, Ireland’s Climate Action Plan was finally published which sets out in detail how Ireland is going to take action to achieve firstly, a 51% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and secondly, net-zero emissions by 2050. The goal is for Ireland to become a cleaner and greener society and the action plan puts Ireland on the map as one of the most ambitious countries in the world in the fight against climate change.
One of the key projects that is hoped will form an integral part of Ireland’s path to becoming a global green leader is ESB’s Green Atlantic Project in Moneypoint, County Clare.
What is proposed at Moneypoint?
Back in April 2021, in line with Ireland’s ambition of reaching net zero emission by 2050, ESB announced the Green Atlantic Project which is a multi-billion euro programme of investments in the Moneypoint site spanning over the next ten years. The proposal is to transform the current site into a green energy hub which will significantly progress Ireland’s path to becoming a global leader in green energy.
Some of the key elements of the proposed programme include:
- a new Synchronous Compensator which will be the largest of its kind in the world. It will provide a range of electrical services to the grid which would previously have been supplied by thermal fired power stations;
- a floating offshore wind farm (capable of powering over 1.5 million homes upon completion) which is proposed to be developed in two phases, off the County Clare and County Kerry coasts; and
- a wind turbine construction hub – Moneypoint will become a centre for the construction and assembly of floating wind turbines.
Taking a step beyond the actual generation of electricity from the offshore wind turbines, it is hoped that Moneypoint will eventually become a centre of excellence for developing new technologies in the wind farm space, which will be recognised and utilised on a global level.
What has happened since?
In November 2021, only seven months after announcing the ambitious programme for Moneypoint, it was confirmed that ESB’s offshore wind project partner in Ireland, Equinor, would be withdrawing from the Irish market. ESB and Equinor had been in partnership since 2019 and had identified five potential sites in Irish waters for new offshore wind farms, including the Moneypoint site.
Despite this setback, ESB remains confident that the Green Atlantic Project will succeed and we expect, will be looking for a new investment partner.
What is next?
ESB has said it remains fully committed to developing and delivering the major portfolio of offshore wind projects that it was to progress with Equinor, including the Green Atlantic Project, and that Equinor’s departure in no way diminishes their ambition to deliver an offshore wind portfolio of scale in Ireland.
The Climate Action Plan published on 4th November 2021 has set Ireland an objective of achieving 80% renewable energy by 2030. To achieve this, over 5GW of offshore wind energy is expected to be developed by the end of the decade.
The present hope is that Moneypoint is part of Ireland’s journey in achieving these targets with a long term goal of making the Shannon Estuary a focal point for the offshore wind industry in Europe.
Given the growing focus and scrutiny on climate change and ESG, both at a global and national policy level, it will be interesting to see what develops over the coming months.
More to come.
ESG and Matheson
In April 2021, Matheson became one of the first Irish law firms to establish a dedicated Environmental, Social and Governance (“ESG”) Advisory Group. The ESG Advisory Group assists companies in navigating to the rapidly evolving ESG landscape. Our expert team of lawyers combines a strong collaborative focus with deep industry knowledge, providing an integrated approach for our clients in responding to legislative and regulatory change; delivering on their own ESG goals; and identifying the challenges and opportunities in doing so. As a firm we are also committed to promoting environmental sustainability, social and governance standards in all parts of our business.
This article was authored by Rebecca O'Mahony, Senior Associate, Commercial Real Estate. If you would like to discuss further please reach out to Rebecca or any member of the ESG, Projects & Infrastructure, Energy, Natural Resources and Utilities, Commercial Real Estate and Construction & Engineering groups at Matheson.