Water boost for Limerick as Shannon Estuary jobs start to flow at GKinetic

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

GKinetic, pictured testing the technology in Limerick, has announced plans for the facility in a joint venture with Rathkeale engineering company Design Pro

GKinetic, pictured testing the technology in Limerick, has announced plans for the facility in a joint venture with Rathkeale engineering company Design Pro

LIMERICK could be in line for a big jobs boost after plans were unveiled for a renewable energy training centre on the Shannon Estuary.

Up to 40 roles could be created after Newcastle West firm GKinetic announced plans for the facility in a joint venture with Rathkeale engineering company Design Pro.

DesignPro has created hydrokinetic turbines using technology developed by GKinetic.

The unique technology generates water energy and can produce a constant supply of zero-carbon technology by doubling the speed of the liquid to a turbine.

Now, in a move described as “extremely important to the local community” by Cllr John Sheahan, GKinetic plans to train buyers of this turbine product from across the world, as DesignPro ramps up production of the 60kw machines.

It is thanks to funding from the European Union given to Design Pro that this project can go ahead.​

Of the new positions, it’s anticipated 30 will be in manufacturing the turbine, with a further 10 instructor roles, if the multi-million euro plan goes ahead.

For a start, there would be a year-long demonstration.

Then, said Vincent McCormack, who heads GKinetic, the centre would come on stream.

“The idea would be what would happen from this [demonstration] is the potential to set up a training centre. What DesignPro’s plan is to build a lot of these machines. There is a huge market for them outside of Ireland. The idea is they would be selling these machines to people in South-East Asia and French Polynesia. We’d like to bring the people from these markets to have a training centre here,” Mr McCormack explained. “We’d install the machines, show them how they should be maintained, use them and travel with them.”

Mr McCormack said the firm is in the process of “scoping out” locations, adding: “There are a few suitable places along the estuary in West Limerick, Ballylongford and North Kerry.”

“We’re not just doing this because we are based in West Limerick though. We feel the conditions on the estuary are excellent for this type of project. I think we’d have an advantage over other test centres already set up. A lot of them seem to be in remote places in terms of access," he added.

GKinetic is seeking a foreshore licence and hopes to have the demonstration up-and-running by next September.

But Mr McCormack warned without such a licence, the firm may be forced to look to either Canada or Scotland instead.

Fine Gael’s council leader Sheahan, who is based in Glin on the Shannon Estuary, welcomed the development.

He said: “The fact is the company is producing a product from the natural energy that we have on our doorstep. Any jobs to a rural community are extremely important. But it’s also important from the point of view of our ESB stations. Some of them are on standby as wind power goes up and down as do water levels. This will allow more consistent power to the grid.”

Mr McCormack made a presentation to the council’s environmental committee this week.

Here, Independent metropolitan councillor John Gilligan suggested replicating the project on riverways in the city and its environs.

“We could see turbines in the Abbey River, Corbally and Castleconnell. The infrastructure in these places has been in place for hundreds of years. If we can borrow hundreds of millions of euro for the Opera Centre development, perhaps it is time to look at three or four river processes like these,” he said.

Committee chairman, Cllr Jerome Scanlan of Fine Gael, described the project as “very significant”.

“I look forward to cheaper energy,” he added.