"We will be Ireland's leader in offshore wind power": national champion ESB chases partners for a green boom |  Reload

“We will be Ireland’s leader in offshore wind power”: national champion ESB chases partners for a green boom | Reload

Even when European sector giants invade Ireland, ESB – which traces its history back to the earliest days of the Irish state – has no intention of being sidelined, says Paul Lennon, the national energy company’s head of offshore wind and alternative fuels.

“We are determined to be a leader in offshore wind power in Ireland by 2030,” said Lennon. Reload, when he outlines the group’s plans to help the country reach its 5 GW national target for 2030 and beyond.

ESB is already well placed to be one of the first developers in Irish waters thanks to its joint development with Parkwind from Oriel Windfarm, one of the country’s Phase 1 projects aimed at being operational well before 2030.

But the symbol of the power plant’s and Ireland’s offshore wind ambitions is Moneypoint, the 900 MW coal – fired power plant that is currently the country’s largest power plant but is scheduled to retire in the middle of the decade before the plant is revitalized under the EU’s € 2 billion ($ 2.3 billion) Green Atlantic @ Moneypoint plan.

With a vision that includes a 1.5 GW floating wind farm, a floating turbine manufacturing and assembly hub and green hydrogen production and storage, Green Atlantic @ Moneypoint is one of the most ambitious energy conversion plans not only in Ireland but in Europe.

It has also symbolized the challenges facing the Irish sector. A partnership with Equinor to develop the Green Atlantic @ Moneypoint wind farm ended in late 2021, and ESB blamed Norwegian energy the giant’s departure partly on rule uncertainty.

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“It is the cutting edge and drive of development,” says Lennon, adding that the ECB is currently using advisors to talk to new potential partners for Moneypoint and the rest of its Irish offshore portfolio, in addition to its existing joint ventures with Parkwind.

“ESB is not large enough to handle these projects alone, given the risk potential and capital requirements.

“We have had an incredible number of incoming requests. The response has been exceptional, he says.

Lennon is also still convinced that the first 400MW phase of the Moneypoint project has a realistic chance of being in the water before 2030, but believes that Ireland’s floating sector needs incentives sooner rather than later if it is to meet its potential and build a local supply chain. .

If we wait until the 2030s, the floating wind supply chain will have developed elsewhere.

“Scotwind [Scotland’s giant floating-dominated leasing round] did a fantastic job of telling the supply chain almost overnight “we are open for business”.

“If we wait until the 2030s to start stimulating or developing floating offshore wind power, the supply chain will have developed elsewhere.”

Lennon points out that although the energy cost of floating is still higher than the solid bottom, the gap is closing and in Ireland the technology would benefit from expansion off the west coast of the country with its outstanding wind resources.

“Even if it’s more expensive, it may not be the gap you can expect. If you wait until that convergence, you will miss out on the benefits of the supply chain you can get. [by moving earlier]. ”

To leave some room for early liquidation, and provide a certain margin for error for all of Ireland’s projects as they compete to reach the 5GW 2030 target, Lennon suggests that the government could sensibly make plans to meet 7GW by then, giving extra confidence. so that – even with some wear and tear on the road – the lower figure could still be reached.

The ECB also wants to see creative use of Ireland’s network to facilitate the first waves of offshore wind, with projects taking advantage of the connections currently used by thermal generators.

“We believe that there is a great opportunity for the existing network to be used more efficiently [with] hybrid network connections, says Lennon.

“You eliminate the requirement for something significant [new] onshore infrastructure and the planning that comes with it. “

This interview is part of a week-long series of special reports on global offshore wind from Recharge

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