Mercury proposes €200m wind farm and hydrogen plant in Mayo

17 Jul 2023

From left: Mercury CEO John Duffy and COO Tim Bills-Everett. Image: James Connolly Photography

Known as Firlough, the renewables project on the Mayo-Sligo border is expected to produce 4.5m kg of green hydrogen per year starting in 2025.

Mercury Renewables, an energy developer based in Co Mayo and the UK, has submitted a planning application for a €200m utility-scale integrated wind farm and green hydrogen project in the north-west of Ireland to An Bord Pleanála.

In an announcement on Saturday (15 July), the company said that the project will produce around 4.5m kg of green hydrogen per year. This has the potential to fuel up to 16,665 cars, 667 lorries, 1,397 buses or 125 trains annually.

Mercury’s plan comes just days after the Government unveiled a long-awaited national hydrogen strategy to put the green energy source into Ireland’s grid as it aims to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Known as Firlough, the project on the Mayo-Sligo border has been deemed of “national strategic importance” to the State and area by An Bord Pleanála. Powered by energy from the Firlough wind farm, the proposed plant will use electrolysis to split water into environmentally friendly green hydrogen and oxygen with no emissions or harmful byproducts.

The planning application submitted by Mercury consists of a 78MW, 13-turbine wind farm as well as the proposed hydrogen plant which is expected to create 100 to 150 jobs during construction and 10 to 20 full-time and part-time jobs on completion.

Mercury COO Tim Bills-Everett said that Firlough is good news for the west of Ireland as it establishes the region “as a centre for green hydrogen production” as well as encouraging new businesses to set up here with the “promise of a locally produced green fuel”.

“Firlough represents a significant step forward in establishing an Irish green hydrogen economy, with the west of Ireland at the forefront. We are already in discussions with several multinationals regarding the supply of our green hydrogen for use in transportation and industry,” he said.

“We have listened to [local] feedback and incorporated that into our development. That resonates with people, and they can see the value Firlough will bring to the community. We are also working with Dublin City University to help foster research in this technology across a broad range of disciplines including engineering, data science and climate sustainability.”

Firlough is expected to commence operations in 2025, depending on how long An Bord Pleanála takes to complete their assessment of the application.

Ireland has been laying the groundwork to develop green hydrogen for some time. In May, Verne Global’s Kim Gunnelius spoke to about the big global players in green hydrogen, the advantages Ireland has in this field and the need for Government subsidies to boost renewable production.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic