ESB’s Moneypoint causes €1bn harm to the environment

Published on 26 November, 2006. By John Reynolds

POLLUTION belched out by the country’s largest ESB power station over the past three years may ultimately cause more than €1bn in environmental damage to Ireland, a Sunday Independent investigation can reveal.

The revelation comes only days after Ireland was named and shamed in a survey as having one of the worst records for combating climate change. According to figures from the British Government’s Stern Report, which looks at the economic consequences of climate change, each tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2) that is pumped out into the atmosphere will have a “social cost” of €67 per tonne if unchecked.

Moneypoint power station in Co Clare – the country’s biggest single industrial source of pollution – emitted 16.8m tonnes of CO2 between 2003 and 2005 according to Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) figures.

The coal-fired Moneypoint complex meets about 14 per cent of Ireland’s power needs. The ESB has spent €368m installing technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the plant.

Green Party energy spokesman Eamon Ryan was startled by the figures.”We ignore one of the world’s leading economic thinkers at our peril. The Government’s approach ignores all recommendations to phase out Moneypoint.

They are short-sighted if they think they can buy their way outof this. “The pollution we cause now will be in the atmosphere for at least 200 years – and the World Health Organisation estimates 150,000 lives are lost each year due to climate change,” he added. “How do we put a price on those?”

As Ireland’s demand for power rises from 3 to 5 per cent every year, and as the costs of pollution increasingly become an issue, alternatives to coal-guzzling Moneypoint will become more attractive.

Converting all power generated by coal, oil and peat to natural gas would improve energy efficiency by as much as 50 per cent and cut annual CO2 emissions by as much as 4m tonnes, according to the Irish Offshore Operators’ Association.

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