As someone who grew up in Ballyleague, Lanesboro and who still has close ties with the area, I welcome the publication of the Just Transition report, which is comprehensive and wide ranging in its scope and considerations.
The report articulates several possible futures for the Midlands, that when taken as a whole, offers a potential roadmap to reinvigorate the towns and villages impacted by the decisions in 2019 to discontinue power generation at the ESB sites in Lanesboro and Shannonbridge.
I am particularly encouraged to see reference in the report to the possibility of developing the Midlands region as a green energy hub and the commitment by Government to undertake a feasibility study on using the power plants as energy hubs.
In 2019 I identified the unique opportunities in Lanesboro for an Integrated Energy Hub, potentially utilising some of the existing power plant assets and repurposing them in the service of renewable energy storage.
If implemented in a holistic way, a campus furnished with clean energy storage technologies could provide heating, cooling and electricity for midlands businesses and homes.
Integrating these storage technologies with suitable anchor tenants from the industrial and commercial sectors in this way offers the Midlands an opportunity to become regional leaders in Ireland’s transition to a low carbon economy over the next decade.
The coming months present us with an opportunity to lay the groundwork to prevent other power plants being completely written off in the next decade and ensure that instead these plants are repurposed in the service of reducing Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions.
With the announcement of the EU Start Engagement Process and working closely with the Lough Ree Collaboration Group over the coming weeks, I hope to have the opportunity to put forward some of FDT’s ideas for consideration in the development of an Energy Hub.
Hopefully, this will result in us making a meaningful contribution to a Just Transition for the region and along with efforts by many others, ensure the creation of long-term, high quality employment for the people of the Midlands.
* John Hanley is the Managing Director of FDT Consulting Engineers & Project Managers Ltd and he presented a vision of what an energy hub could look like to the Lough Ree Collaboration Group in Lanesboro in late February, just before the Covid-19 outbreak