Threat of ‘extended’ power cuts without changes at Moneypoint

ESB sets out prediction in planning application to convert Co Clare power station to heavy fuel oil use for ‘generator of last resort’

Ireland could experience “extended” winter power cuts if the ESB’s coal-burning Moneypoint power station is not converted to use heavy fuel oil (HFO), the company has warned.

The risk is set out in the ESB’s Strategic Infrastructure Development “Security of Supply” application lodged with An Bord Pleanála.

A failure to convert the Co Clare site, it said, would make it “possible that extended power outages could occur to cover the winter peaks in the period 2024 to 2029″.

Consultants for the ESB, Mott MacDonald, also warn of “significant adverse effect in terms of energy requirements and supply on the island of Ireland”.


The planning application includes the construction of two HFO tanks each with a capacity of 25,000 tonnes and notes the construction phase would result in the creation of between 90 and 100 jobs.

According to an environmental impact statement (EIS), a gas conversion is ruled out because the changes to three coal units would take five years to design and build.

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Costs associated with a gas conversion included an estimated €150 million on a 21km gas pipeline and an additional €90 million to convert the three coal units.

Asked to provide the costs of the HFO conversion, an ESB spokesman said it was “not in a position to comment on matters relating to commercial contracts”.

Figures provided in the extensive documentation lodged with An Bord Pleanála show that Moneypoint will continue to be a significant contributor from within the energy sector to greenhouse gas emissions after conversion from coal to HFO.

The EIS chapter on climate impact concedes emissions from the operation of the proposed development are expected to be “adverse and significant”.

However, it states the proposed development “has a 12 per cent lower emissions intensity than the existing coal-fired plant and presents lower emissions through transition to HFO than a ‘do nothing’ scenario with continued use of coal”.

On climate impact, the EIS notes the proposed development’s annual emissions “would be approximately 39-46 per cent of total projected Irish energy sector annual emissions if operating in 2030″.

The EIS states that an HFO-operated Moneypoint is estimated to account for 4 to 5 per cent of projected national emissions across all sectors in 2030, which is the closest projection year available.

The 489-page EIS, compiled by consultants Mott MacDonald, states the proposed development “will act as an out-of-market generator of last resort and will operate only when required by EirGrid for security of supply reasons”.

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