I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."
I welcome the opportunity to move this Bill on Second Stage. I thank my co-sponsors, Deputies Quinlivan, Cronin and Guirke. I note the Government amendment which states that this Bill will be deemed to have been read a second time this day six months, that is, in January 2023. I understand the rationale for this amendment and hope the Government will have accelerated its planning in the area of green hydrogen by that time and that it will have produced a comprehensive strategy before the new year.
Tuesday of this week saw the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications open a public consultation on the development of a hydrogen strategy for Ireland. This was very welcome. It goes to the core of what we are debating here today. We brought this Bill forward with the intention of addressing a gap in Government policy with regard to green hydrogen. We sought to be constructive and we are glad to see the Government now moving ahead in line with the intention of our Bill. It is fair to say that the Government has come some way in its thinking on this issue and on the potential opportunity of green hydrogen. That is also welcome.
We believe green hydrogen can play a central role in the decarbonisation of our economy. It is emerging as a sustainable solution for the decarbonisation of many sectors including heavy transport, shipping, aviation and industry. Both Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus now have hydrogen buses, which is an exciting development. These buses are filled with hydrogen in a compressed gas state and water is the only by-product emitted through the vehicles' exhaust. I met with Bus Éireann earlier this week and it outlined a positive experience so far with its small hydrogen fleet. This fleet operates on the 105X route, which runs in my constituency of Meath East. Although this area is in its infancy, it highlights the potential applications and benefits of green hydrogen. In the North, Wrightbus is now building hydrogen buses. This highlights the need to plan our hydrogen strategy on an all-island basis, as we have consistently stated.
The hydrogen strategy consultation paper published two days ago further notes that hydrogen is also used in the energy, aerospace, electronics, pharmaceutical and medical industries here, albeit in a limited role. As the technology improves and advances are made, it is important that we are in a position to capitalise on the use of green hydrogen in as many areas as possible in order to help meet our climate targets. Ireland has some of the best offshore wind potential in the world, which affords us the opportunity to become a leader in green hydrogen production through the harnessing of just a portion of this wind energy. This hydrogen can be used domestically to reduce our carbon emissions in line with the national objective of achieving a carbon-neutral economy and society by 2050 or can be sold on international markets as energy, thereby raising revenue for investment in public services here. Ireland has a major opportunity to exploit our wind resource for the production of green hydrogen, which can then be exported to Europe to meet demand. The German-Irish Chamber of Industry and Commerce has already formed a German-Irish hydrogen council in response to the interest expressed in forming closer relationships with Germany in the field of green hydrogen.
Green hydrogen and renewable energy products hold significant potential to create jobs in rural and regional Ireland. This can be seen in the hydrogen-related projects already in the pipeline. Merck's renewable energy division is planning a €200 million green hydrogen plant in Mayo while Bord na Móna has a renewable hub with hydrogen production capabilities planned for the midlands. The ESB's multibillion euro Green Atlantic at Moneypoint plan would see the conversion of the existing coal-fired power station to a renewable energy hub that would include capacity for 1,400 MW of offshore wind, a wind turbine construction base and green hydrogen production and storage facilities.
It is great to see ambitious plans like this from semi-State companies. It is exactly the type of State-led investment we have been calling for to ensure we remain in control of vital energy production in the years ahead. Ireland's green hydrogen potential is contingent on the success of our offshore wind sector and there is a significant amount of work to be done in that area. I might come back to that in my closing remarks.