Wednesday 13 December 2017

Plans for €650m hydro-electric plant at disused Tipperary mine revealed

Paul Melia

Paul Melia

PLANS for a €650m hydro-electric plant for a disused Tipperary mine have been launched.

The joint venture between Austrian technology companies Strabag and Andritz Hydro and Irish construction firm Roadbridge will use wind energy to pump water into a reservoir at night-time when power is cheaper, and release the water during the day to produce some 360MW of electricity, enough for some 200,000 homes.

The project, which is subject to planning permission, will be developed at the disused open-cast mining site at Silvermines, where operations ceased in more than 20 years ago.

It has been developed over the past six years, and will cost some €650m to deliver, creating 400 jobs over the four-year construction phase and up to 50 full-time posts after.

The consortium says that the project will not only produce renewable electricity, it will also help clean up the contaminated site with water in the existing reservoir to be decontaminated, ending the seepage of harmful minerals into local water tables.

The plans were announced by Environment Minister Alan Kelly this morning.

“This announcement is a pivotal announcement for Silvermines, for the wider north Tipperary area and, indeed, the country,” he said.

“For Silvermines, it will transform the mining legacy here from an environmentally hazardous to a positive one, as well as trigger very significant and sustainable investment and employment in the local community.

“From a national perspective, it will significantly advance Ireland’s transition to a low carbon economy, with 360MW of electricity generated for this renewable source five hours each day.  This will be enough to supply 200,000 homes – more than three times the total number of households in Tipperary.”

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