Plans by the ESB-Equinor partnership to develop an offshore wind farm off the west coast of Clare and Kerry are most welcome and replicate the innovative approach taken in the 1920s to tap into the hydro power at Ardnacrusha to create the energy for a new and emerging Ireland, and the development of Moneypoint in the 1980s, to generate the energy required to grow the newly emerging export-oriented Irish economy.
That is the view of the Atlantic Economic Corridor (AEC) Business Forum chair Mike Devane, who, since 2015, has been leading a collaboration of Chambers representing 2,725 businesses employing 80,000 people and business organisations along the western corridor, from Donegal to Kerry, to realise the hidden, untapped/present opportunity to bring jobs and investment along this economic corridor that spans nine western counties.
“Since its inception, the Forum has highlighted the abundant resource that the corridor offers in terms of its marine and Agri resources. As recently as February, we presented a case to Government, via a Submission to the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, on the potential for the AEC to be the engine for a low-carbon, high-value (LCHV) Economy for Ireland and for Europe,” stated Mr Devane
“This submission is based on the premise that the AEC’s natural resource base provides the opportunity for infrastructure, technology and enterprise investments that are necessary to create a carbon neutral economy. The Submission presented a hierarchy for developing LCHV across the AEC and stated that the corridor’s marine and natural resources provide unrealised potential for renewable energy generation and distribution.
“So great is the corridor’s offshore wind speed that it puts Ireland at the centre of Europe rather than at the periphery,” he added.
This sentiment is endorsed by both Shannon and Ennis Chambers, key contributors to the AEC Business Forum whose CEOs, Helen Downes and Margaret O’Brien, recognise the comparative advantage that the Shannon Estuary’s deep-water ports with docking facilities, coupled with an abundant adjacent land infrastructure, offer to the entire west coast.
“The value of the planned undertaking by the ESB and Equinor lies not just in its geographic location but in the fact that it has the capacity to repurpose Moneypoint, sitting on the edge of the Atlantic, to provide an endless supply of new fuels to drive economic activity. It will enhance the technology, research, skill capacity and reputation of the region. The spin-off benefits will not just accrue to Co Clare but to the entire country. It’s a very promising and exciting development.”
About the Atlantic Economic Corridor
Chambers of Commerce in the west, including Shannon, Galway, Sligo, Ennis, Limerick, Tralee, Letterkenny, Donegal, Leitrim, Mayo, and Roscommon – representing 2,725 businesses employing 80,000 people – and partners (the American Chamber of Commerce, NUI Galway, GMIT, Action Tuam, IFA, Clare Community Co-Op, Credit Union and O’Gonnolloe Exchange), signed up to a Charter in 2015 to develop an Atlantic Economic Corridor from Kerry to Donegal, to develop a ‘city of scale effect’ in the corridor.
Following the initial work of the founding chambers and the setting up by Government of an AEC Task Force, the Western Development Commission (WDC) was given responsibility for promoting the AEC (see www.atlanticeconomiccorridor.ie).
The AEC Business Forum (involving the collective Chambers) have now moved into Phase 2, presenting its case to Government, via a Submission to the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, on the potential for the AEC to be the engine for a Low-Carbon, High-Value (LCHV) Economy for Ireland and for Europe.