The Shannon estuary has been identified as one of the best locations in Europe to develop large-scale offshore wind energy.
A new study by the global engineering and procurement company Bechtel, has found that giant wind turbines in the Atlantic could produce over six times our current energy demand by 2050, reduce our dependence on Russian imported fossil fuels and help meet our climate targets.
The company undertook a review of the Shannon Foynes Port Company's strategic 2041 masterplan and investigated the unprecedented opportunity which lies in the winds off the Shannon estuary to produce over 30 gigawatts of green wind power, six times more than our domestic needs.
Bechtel, who manage major energy projects across the world, say the construction and transportation of these giant turbines, similiar in size to the Eiffel tower, could be hubbed from Shannon Foynes Port Company capitalising on its deep water location.
The estuary presents a unique opportunity not just in Ireland, but also in Europe to develop a Atlantic floating offshore wind industry, but also to develop another energy ecosystem around it in the production of hydrogen and derivatives which then could be used as the green fuel of the future.
Because of the production of both electricity and hydrogen at scale both resources could then be exported, particularly to Germany where there is a huge demand for hydrogen.
Paul Deane, Project leader with Bechtel, said Shannon Foynes Port Company, based in one of the deepest water ports in Europe, said it could be a one stop shop for the construction and transport of these giant turbines, which can be built at scale at the port, and transported through the estuary, over 100 kilometres out into the Atlantic, to harvest the vast wind resource there.
Pat Keating CEO of Shannon Foynes Port Company said it is a big vision, but a realistic one, and one which capitalises on the huge advantages the company has based in deep estuary waters with an abundance of industrial space which could be the hub for the building and transport of these turbines.
He said this large scale plan has the capacity to transform Ireland from one of Europe's most dependent energy importers to an energy nation exporter.
"Through its REPowerEU Plan, which is about reducing dependence on Russian fossil fuels and fast tracking the green transition, the EU is looking to its member states for solutions," Mr Keatin said.
"Thankfully Ireland has such a solution on the estuary and on the West coast, which potentially is one of the most significant responses from any member states."
But a number of policy changes need to happen, including changing our current dependence on wind energy production on our East coast which needs to shift to the West--which minister Eamon Ryan supports.
He said the plan outlines an important vision for the clever use of our resources along the west coast which fits in with the Government’s emphasis on balanced regional development, building up our ports to enable building the turbines at Foynes, and transporting them out along the estuary, ensuring green energy production into the future.