The Just Transition Commissioner made a recommendation in his first progress report, published in May 2020, that a study be undertaken in relation to the future potential of the ESB power stations at both Lanesborough (Lough Ree Power) and Shannonbridge (West Offaly Power) for the establishment of a dedicated Energy Hub in the Midlands. This was subsequently included as a commitment in the Programme for Government. ESB has been participating in a number of working groups established under the Just Transition programme which looked at the future of the Midlands area following the closure of the ESB Midlands stations and the ending of the harvesting of peat by Bord na Móna.
One of the working groups, which included representatives of my Department, relevant Local Authorities, and the Just Transition Commissioner, looked specifically at how the existing infrastructure on the station sites might form a part of a future renewable energy hub. To that end, ESB commissioned an internal engineering report to examine how the power plants might be re-used in the future. Options reviewed included the possibility of using other types of fuel. The report was subsequently reviewed by Fichtner, an external international consultancy firm with acknowledged expertise in these areas. These reports have not identified any viable alternative use for the existing power plants.
While the management of ESB-owned facilities is the responsibility of the Board and management of the ESB, the company has informed the Department that it plans to lodge planning applications shortly to develop additional energy services at these sites. These will include synchronous condensers and energy storage capabilities at both locations.