The new green energy project will be sited near the Old Head of Kinsale. Photo: Omkar Kulkarni

Kinsale set for new green energy project

When a gas field has been depleted, what can you do with it? Well a new project aims to develop large-scale storage for green hydrogen off the coast of Cork.

Last Thursday ESB and dCarbonX launched Green Hydrogen @ Kinsale.

This project – pending licence and planning approvals – could have the potential to store up to three TWh of green hydrogen and hydrogen carriers, the equivalent of approximately 10 per cent of current Irish annual electricity consumption.

Green hydrogen is produced by using renewable electricity such as wind to split water into its basic elements of hydrogen and oxygen.

It is a carbon-free gas that can be safely stored and used as a replacement fuel for heavy transport, shipping, industry and backup power generation.

A proprietary evaluation of the depleted gas field reservoir took place earlier this year to identify the potential for large-scale storage of green hydrogen. Since then, a comprehensive work programme has begun, comprising of subsurface analysis, mineralogy, capacity modelling, injection and withdrawal rates, compression, drilling evaluation, well design, retention assurance, monitoring, electrolysis and infrastructure tie-in. This is the latest project undertaken by ESB and dCarbonX following their partnership announcement in May, with the companies identifying and developing subsea energy storage offshore opportunities in Ireland.

The companies have also proposed the development of a new Green Hydrogen Valley centred around the Poolbeg peninsula in Dublin, which will enable green hydrogen production and storage that can be used to decarbonise heavy transport, shipping, industry and power generation.

Padraig O’Hiceadha, ESB Strategy Manager, Generation and Trading, said: “Green Hydrogen @ Kinsale is another milestone in ESB’s commitment to exploring the significant opportunities in hydrogen production and storage.

“Mirroring developments across Europe and globally, ESB recognises the role hydrogen will play in enabling a low carbon future. Transforming sites – such as the recently decommissioned gas reservoirs at Kinsale Head – and repurposing reservoirs for green hydrogen can deliver large-scale sustainable energy storage for homes and businesses in the future. We look forward to working with dCarbonX on this exciting renewable project.”

This project follows ESB’s announcement in May that it has plans to invest in a hydrogen facility as part of its redevelopment of the Moneypoint site into a renewable energy hub, Green Atlantic @ Moneypoint.

Dr John O’Sullivan, COO of dCarbonX, said: “The Kinsale Head reservoirs hosted safe, secure and reliable offshore natural gas subsurface energy storage for many years, underpinning Ireland’s security of gas supply. As subsurface lead for the original natural gas storage development, the dCarbonX and ESB partnership is optimally positioned to repurpose and develop these reservoirs for green hydrogen storage.

Kinsale Head is the third Irish offshore location that we are assessing with ESB for green hydrogen storage and we look forward to providing further updates as appropriate.”

The Cork region is ideally placed to be a renewable energy hub, having one of the largest natural harbours in the world, excellent energy and transport connectivity, modern global manufacturing and service industries together with power stations, refinery and gas reception terminal.