Making it Work

Croom Concrete moving into green energy space

Planned renewable energy hub in Shannon estuary will increase demand for Co Limerick firm’s products, such as submarine cable anchors and belts

Mike and Joe Costello of Croom Concrete: ‘A project of this scale in the Shannon estuary will require a deep water port’. Picture: Keith Wiseman

Croom Concrete, headquartered in the Co Limerick town, is aiming to be part of the construction of a new wave of renewable energy projects in the nearby Shannon estuary that offer significant opportunities for growth.

The company, founded in 1980, specialises in precast concrete structures, which are heavily used in the building of renewable energy infrastructure.

Founded by: Paul and Colleen Costello in 1980

Turnover: €18 million

Staff: 90

With plans for a renewable energy hub in the estuary gathering pace, demand for the firm’s products, such as submarine cable anchors and belts, is likely to grow.

Joe Costello, the operations manager at Croom Concrete, said concrete would play an important role in building the energy infrastructure required for a more sustainable future: “A project of this scale in the Shannon estuary will require a deep water port, foundations and multiple other structures where concrete will be needed.”

Apart from these specific projects, Croom Concrete is also looking to develop new products in areas such as railway infrastructure.

“We are producing cable troughs for tracks and we are looking into expanding our product line there, because rail infrastructure in Ireland will become more and more important,” Costello said.

As well as providing raw materials to sustainable energy projects, Croom Concrete has worked to reduce the carbon footprint of the concrete itself through various research and development initiatives.

“Low carbon emission concrete is becoming more and more standard in construction processes. This is because most projects have a fixed emissions ceiling for the construction and this ‘green’ concrete helps them to stay within it,” Costello said.

This sort of concrete is produced with so-called ground granulated blastfurnace slag (GGBS) which is a by-product of iron manufacturing. Instead of simply being dumped at a landfill, the GGBS is upcycled into a replacement for traditional cement which is normally required to produce concrete.

“We use this blend more and more, because the demand is getting higher and even though the price might be 10 per cent higher than traditional concrete, people are keen to reduce their emissions,” Costello said.

Despite the tight supply in building materials worldwide, Croom Concrete has managed to continue working unaffected by these problems. “We receive our concrete from within 20km of our factory. Not only does this make us immune to worldwide fluctuation, but it also helps to keep transport costs and emission low.”

In July 2023, Croom Concrete invested in a new solar panel array on its factory roofs. According to company numbers, this allows it to source up to 40 per cent of energy used for production.

Founded in 1980 by Costello’s parents, Paul and Colleen, the business has stayed in family ownership and now counts 90 employees in its workforce. In 2019, it managed to win the Irish Enterprise Award for best precast concrete supplier.

Croom Concrete supplies products for all sectors including organisations in business, agriculture and sport.

Between skill walls for local GAA clubs, dugouts and swimming shelters, the solid concrete structures the company builds can withstand harsh weather.

Normally, Croom Concrete only focuses on orders from Ireland or Britain. However earlier in 2023, the company won a contract to supply a shipload of box culverts to the Caribbean. There the Irish concrete structures are used in the construction of a new harbour in a Caribbean country.

“This was a new challenge in terms of logistics, but we managed to get everything over in time and the customer was happy to have chosen us,” said Costello.

Croom Concrete is part of the IDEAM industry cluster. The cluster was launched by the Limerick Institute of Technology and is funded by Enterprise Ireland. It is set up to provide support for Innovation and green transition.

This Making it Work article is produced in partnership with Enterprise Ireland