The opportunity to transform the Shannon Estuary into an international renewable energy hub has been further validated by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between ESB and Shannon Foynes Port, the company with statutory jurisdiction over all marine activities on the estuary.
The MOU aims to support the transformation of Shannon Estuary and surrounding areas into a major centre for the deployment of floating offshore wind projects in Irish and International waters.
In the agreement, Shannon Foynes Port and ESB have committed to working closely together to maximise the unique potential of the Shannon Estuary thanks to its mix of deepwater, development lands, low-lying shoreline, and proximity to what is one of the world’s most consistent wind resources off Ireland’s west coast.
The MOU follows the publication late last year of Shannon Foynes Port’s Vision 2041 masterplan for the wider estuary, which set out a clear strategy to transform the estuary into one of the world’s leading green energy hubs. It identified three key growth areas for the estuary, namely delivering floating offshore wind at international scale, green industrial development transition, and expanded, diversified and more sustainable logistics services.
ESB is currently undertaking a multi-billion-euro redevelopment project at its Moneypoint site to include significant amounts of offshore wind coupled with the production of hydrogen and other green derivatives. As an enabler to the Green Atlantic @ Moneypoint project, an offshore wind construction hub will be developed which will facilitate the fabrication and assembly of floating offshore wind platforms.
The MOU is in line with the identification in Shannon Foynes Port’s masterplan of the development of four core facilities at the estuary to support the delivery of floating offshore wind at scale. These included substructure assembly at Moneypoint, as well as turbine integration and pre-commissioning at Foynes port, wet storage at various locations within the estuary and an Operations & Maintenance base also at Foynes.
Shannon Foynes Port’s plans centre on the development of a new deep water port at Foynes Island, which will be linked directly to the national transport network via a direct restored rail and new road link.
Under this MOU, the parties will collaborate to ensure that ESB’s Green Atlantic @ Moneypoint project and the port authority’s projects will be developed in a coordinated manner in the national interest with a common goal of maximising the opportunity for the estuary and wider Mid-West region.
Minister of State with responsibility for Office of Public Works and the Gaeltacht, Patrick O’Donovan TD, said:“As Ireland continues to develop transformational renewable energy projects in order to meet our ambitious climate action targets, I am delighted to be here today to see the plans that ESB and Shannon Foynes Port have to realise the potential of the Shannon Estuary and wider region as a hub for clean energy.”
Minister of State at the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Niall Collins TD, said: “This MOU is a welcome commitment that is aligned with Government’s climate action targets and demonstrates the importance that renewable energy projects, such as floating offshore wind, will play in Ireland’s clean energy future. I look forward to seeing how this partnership will help transform Shannon Estuary into a renewable energy hub that will be recognised worldwide.”
Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Kieran O’Donnell TD, said: “Offshore wind will play a crucial role in Ireland achieving its climate change ambitions so I am delighted to be here today to welcome this agreement between ESB and Shannon Foynes Port. This will not only bring significant social and economic benefits to the Mid-West but it also places Shannon Estuary at the centre of Ireland’s renewable energy transition.”
Paul Lennon, Head of Offshore Wind and Hydrogen at ESB, said: “We are delighted to partner with Shannon Foynes Port to help deliver on our ambitious plans for floating offshore wind. As ESB transforms its generation portfolio with projects such as Green Atlantic @ Moneypoint, this collaboration builds on our commitment to delivering renewables projects in the Mid-West region. It is an important step in ESB’s efforts to deploy the latest technologies and infrastructure as we play a crucial role in Ireland’s transition to net zero.”
Shannon Foynes Port CEO, Pat Keating, said: “As the maritime authority for the Estuary, we are focused on ensuring the unrivalled opportunity arising from one of the world’s best wind regimes and proximity of our deep waters is maximized for the national interest. The ESB through its Green Atlantic @ Moneypoint project is a key constituent in the transformation of the wider estuary and we look forward to doing whatever we can to ensure this essential project is realized.”
Ireland’s offshore wind energy potential arising from our Atlantic seaboard winds is among Europe’s leading renewable energy opportunities. With a maritime area more than seven times the size of its landmass, ideal wind conditions, and strategic location on the Atlantic Ocean’s edge, floating offshore wind generation can deliver up to 30 gigawatts of energy by 2050 – six times more than current domestic electricity demand.
The MOU supports the Government’s Climate Action Plan. While non-exclusive in nature, the agreement sets out both organisations’ intention to work together for the benefit of achieving Irish offshore renewable energy targets, in line with ESB’s Net Zero by 2040 strategy and Shannon Foynes Port’s Vision 2041 masterplan.