The Irish Energy Storage Association (IESA) is this week putting forward a proposal that Lanesboro and Shannonbridge be given an ‘Energy Zone’ status (and/or energy hubs) with the goal of having both energy/ generation facilities and a storage-related technology research centre located in the Energy Zone.
The proposal is written as an input to the potential solutions arising from the shutting down of these stations (Lough Ree and West Offaly) as part of Ireland’s actions on Climate Action. It is understood that various proposals are currently under consideration, including major retraining programme for redundant staff for retro-fitting residential premises to significantly improve their BER rating, and the establishment of a food-hub at Lanesboro.
Such a development as set out in the IESA proposal would result in a significant number of jobs during the construction and set-up phases with a continuing number of on-going jobs post-construction with regard to energy storage, solar and wind farms, synchronous condensers, data centres and potential biomass research projects.
The presence of these facilities, according to the IESA, would result in a critical mass of energy technologies/applications and thereby underpin the Energy Zone/Energy Hub(s). In addition, their presence could be used to attract in further high tech technologies and applications, the IESA says.
While retraining as many staff as possible for retrofitting houses is an excellent idea, it may not provide the full solution.
IESA believes there is an opportunity to capitalize on the history of energy and power generation in these locations, and on the fact that significant experience and expertise on energy storage technologies and applications has been developed in the midlands over recent years.
Additionally, the IESA believes that the communities in Lanesboro and/or Shannonbridge might welcome the opportunity to be designated ‘Carbon Neutral Communities’ by a specified date, and where they would be seen in Ireland and beyond to be at the forefront of embracing Climate Action.
One of the key elements in enabling an Energy Zone or Energy Hub to be established is the need to have a critical mass of facilities, technologies, assets and initial expertise with local support in the region. Most of these are available, for example, there are two excellent buildings at Lanesboro and Shannonbridge, each located on a campus, which could be modified (or replaced) and used as energy buildings to house energy facilities and/or energy RD&D labs, test centres and offices (Research, Development & Demonstration).
The multiplicity of electricity transmission lines ensures a high security of supply and the availability of ESB high-capacity fibre optic cable is a significant advantage. IESA urges that this proposal is added to the list of potential projects for consideration in the overall portfolio of solutions for Lanesboro and Shannonbridge, and that the Proposal is given serious consideration.
Finally, the Irish Energy Storage Association believes that Climate Action will be at the heart of future economic development and this Proposal fits into that landscape.