- Equinor pulls out of ESB partnership
- Hope still on the horizon for offshore windfarm
Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Cathal Crowe is calling on the ESB and the government to immediately put their heads together and find a replacement partner for the offshore wind development planned for near Moneypoint in West Clare.
Norwegian firm Equinor has pulled out of the Irish market, having previously reached an agreement with the ESB to develop a major 1.4GW wind farm using floating technology, at a cost of €2 billion.
“Whilst it’s very disappointing that Equinor have withdrawn from their partnership with the ESB to develop the offshore Green Atlantic windfarm, I think the project can still very much proceed,” said Deputy Crowe.
“It has been widely reported in the media today that the outdated planning and regulatory systems in Ireland pertaining to the development of offshore projects has been a major factor in Equinor’s withdrawal, but I don’t necessarily believe that this is the biggest reason.
“Currently, much of what happens along Irish coastlines is dictated by the Foreshore Act of 1933.
“This legislation is totally outdated and unfit for purpose and served this country at a time when it still had steam powered boats.
“For the last 18 months, a new piece of legislation to overhaul offshore projects Maritime Area Planning Bill has been working its way through the Houses of the Oireachtas and is now around six weeks away from being fully enacted.
“This piece of legislation will supersede the 1933 Act and ensure that Ireland has a planning and regulatory framework equal to, if not better, than most other EU states.
“Whilst we should all be very grateful to Equinor for progressing the Green Atlantic project to this stage, it must also be noted that they were happy to partner in this project at a time when a modern offshore planning regime was a mere pipeline dream.
“Now this legislation is only weeks away from being a reality.
“There are many other companies who I believe will find the project to be very attractive and I will be asking government and the ESB to immediately engage with some of these companies so that the project doesn’t encounter any delays.
“When developed, the Green Atlantic project will be a key component of Ireland providing more than 80% of its energy needs from renewables and getting out country closer to 2050 carbon reduction targets.
“From a Clare point of view, the project and Moneypoint breath new hope into a part of our county that was hugely concerned about the future of the Moneypoint Power Station.
“With coal burning operations being wound down, all hopes now rest on the transition to wind energy offshore.
“Beyond generating electricity from offshore wind turbines, Moneypoint will also be a centre of excellence for developing new wind turbine technologies which will be used not only in the locality but also nationally and globally.
“The withdrawal of Equinor certainly won’t bury this project but it’s imperative that every effort is now made to ensure that a new partner is found and the project proceeds as swiftly as possible.”