Bord na Móna has revealed plans for Ireland’s first dedicated renewable energy business park on 3,000ha of its land bank in counties Meath, Offaly and Westmeath.

The Bord na Móna Energy Park will be developed across peatlands close to Junction 3 of the M6 motorway.

It is expected to potentially co-locate 200 megawatt (MW) of electricity directly beside businesses in the energy park.

The electricity will be generated from renewable sources such as wind, solar, energy storage and green hydrogen production.

High energy demand

Bord na Móna expects that the energy park will be attractive for industrial and high-demand energy users such as large-scale distribution facilities and data centres.

The availability of a 400, 220 and 110 kV grid network within or adjacent to the Bord na Móna landbank will reduce set-up costs and eliminates the need for significant grid extension work.

Bord na Móna expects to lodge a planning application for the new energy park in the next 18 to 24 months.

Extensive consultation with the local communities will take place in the coming months.

Hot air

However, despite claims that the development will deliver an economic boost to the area, the announcement has been met with some opposition.

Independent TD for Laois-Offaly Carol Nolan has said that she has little or no faith in the commitments being provided by Bord na Móna.

“Given the scale of the emerging energy crisis and continuing evidence of how unreliable and unpredictable large-scale reliance on renewable energy is, then it is difficult to see this plan as anything but counter-productive,” Nolan said.

“I remain to be convinced that this proposed renewable energy park will do anything concrete to provide real employment and lasting energy security, which is what we all want,” concluded Deputy Nolan.

Announcing the proposed development, Bord na Móna CEO Tom Donnellan said: “The proposed Bord na Móna Energy Park brings with it a whole range of solutions in this area.

"It will reduce Ireland’s reliance on national grid infrastructure and will increase self-sufficiency and energy security in the country, while meeting the needs of the national and regional economies.”