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Tarbert Island and Moneypoint to remain operating for ‘years to come’

Electricity-generating plants slated for closure in near future to continue powering Irish homes and industry indefinitely


Tánaiste Leo Varadkar. Photo yb Barry Cregg/Sportsfile

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar. Photo yb Barry Cregg/Sportsfile

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar. Photo yb Barry Cregg/Sportsfile


TÁNAISTE Leo Varadkar told the Dáil that the State needs Tarbert Island power plant and its sister station of Moneypoint across the Shannon Estuary to keep operating indefinitely amid growing concerns over energy security.

His comments sound a stay of execution for the oil-burning electricity plant at Tarbert and the coal-burning generator plant in Moneypoint which were slated for closure in 2023 and 2025, respectively, in line with CO2 emission-reduction targets.

It’s an about-face on the fossil-fuel burning energy sector at a time of heightened fears over everything from rising energy prices to the security of the State’s energy supply.

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The Tánaiste’s remarks were made in response to a query from Independent Clare TD Michael Moynihan during Leader’s Questions on Thursday. 

Deputy Moynihan asked why the Government was pursuing a policy of closing power stations during what he termed an energy crisis.

But the Tánaiste told the Clare TD the Government now has no intention of closing either plant until it is ‘ready to do so’ – when the country is served sufficiently by renewable generation as to deliver a stable source of clean power; rather than the current intermittent supply dependant on the variables of the weather.

"It is not our intention to close Moneypoint or Tarbert until we are ready to do so,” the Tánaiste said. 

"I don’t like the fact that we are burning coal in Moneypoint. I don’t like the fact we are burning oil in Tarbert, but we do actually need to do so, and we may need to do so for many years to come. Those plants will not be decommissioned until we are confident that we are able to replace them with secure supply and secure renewables and that might take a bit of time,” he added.

Deputy McNamara said he welcomed the response: “I welcome the Government’s confirmation that it will maintain operations at Moneypoint and Tarbert for the foreseeable future until alternative energy sources are put in place. While I look forward to that day, and the decarbonisation of our energy supply, that will not take place within the next three years.”

The Clare TD had said he agreed with the vision of offshore wind and hydrogen energy as set out in policy:  

“I agree with your vision of bringing offshore energy on to our western shores and storing in the form of hydrogen. But the technology to do that is not there now,” he told Leo Varadkar, adding:

“I greatly look forward to when Moneypoint is not burning coal and vast amounts of wind energy are being turned into hydrogen and stored there. But that is all down the road. Are we going to decommission the biggest power station in the country (Moneypoint) before we have an alternative because that is what your government is currently planning?"