ESB to help avert UK power pinch
Published 09/11/2015 | 02:30
The ESB has been pressed into action in the UK to help prevent a winter power shortage there.
The semi-state's international division owns and operates wind farms in the UK and an oil and gas-powered station called Corby, in Northamptonshire. It's also building a huge 881 megawatt power plant outside Manchester, which is due to become operational next year.
The ESB confirmed that its Corby plant was awarded what's called a strategic balancing reserve contract by National Grid in the UK this year. That contract runs from last month until September 2016, and means the plant is unavailable to the general power market in the UK.
National Grid - a stockmarket listed company that owns the electricity distribution system in England and Wales - has been paying mothballed power plants in the UK to fire up again as overall generating capacity there comes under pressure.
A power plant called Keadby in Lincolnshire is being turned back on by Airtricity owner SSE this month, after what SSE described as "deep mothballing" of the facility back in 2013, due to adverse market conditions.
National Grid had been trying to boost the amount of spare capacity it has available on the network in England and Wales to 5.1pc of demand, from what would have been a 10-year low of 1.2pc.
The network will come under more pressure in winter next year as old coal-fuelled power plants close due to rising costs associated with new European pollution rules. Power generators in the UK have announced they intend to close about 5,000 megawatts of coal capacity by March 2016, or enough to supply electricity to 10 million European homes.
National Grid said last week that it would like the amount of UK power held in reserve to be higher.
Last week, National Grid paid above the odds for extra power plants to be switched on urgently to ensure a sufficient buffer was in place across the network.
It was the first time in over three years that it had issued a so-called notification of inadequate system margin.
The ESB is also involved in a joint venture to build a 40 megawatt biomass power station east of London.
ESB's new Carrington plant in Manchester is being fired up and tested this month and next.
(Additional reporting: Bloomberg)