Business Irish

Thursday 19 September 2019

ESB planning mini power plants for big customers

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John Mulligan

John Mulligan

THE ESB is scouting for companies to help it roll out new mini power stations on customer sites across Ireland and the United Kingdom over the next five years.

It said it plans to build combined heat and power (CHP) generating facilities that will each produce between one and five megawatts of electricity. They'll be located on the sites of customers with high electricity demand.

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"Over the next five years, ESB intends to build a number of reciprocating engine combined heat and power generating plants on customer sites in Ireland and the UK," the semi-State company said. "These plants may range in size from 1,000 to 5,000 kW, electrical output."

It's establishing an approved bid list for future tenders for the supply, installation and commissioning of the CHP units and for the maintenance of the plants for up to 15 years.

The company had not responded to queries at the time of going to press.

Among the companies currently using CHP facilities is the Rusal-owned Aughinish Alumina refinery in Limerick. The €100m system was installed over a decade ago and generates up to 160MW of electricity.

Aughinish Alumina was once the ESB's single largest customer.

In the UK, the ESB already owns a number of generating assets. They include the Carrington power station outside Manchester and number of wind farm investments.

During the summer, An Bord Pleanála refused permission for plans to covert the peat-fired ESB plant at Shannonbridge in Co Offaly to biomass usage.

That shift has created uncertainty for 300 jobs in the ESB and Bord na Mona.

Last month, plans to re-open a peat-fired power plant at Lanesborough in Co Longford were delayed after an objection was made by An Taisce to a new licence determination by the Environmental Protection Agency. The plant has now been closed for three months.

The ESB recently told workers at its Moneypoint coal-fired generating plant in Co Clare - the country's largest power station - that at least 106 workers needed to be culled from its workforce there to ensure continuing viability of the facility until 2025.

The station's three 305MW power units generate output equivalent to about 20pc of the electricity demand in the Republic of Ireland, but it must stop burning coal in 2025.

The ESB saw its operating profit fall almost 8pc to €455m in 2018, in what it described as a "challenging" year. Its revenue rose 5.2pc to €3.43bn.

Irish Independent

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