SSE's new €330m Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT) power station at Great Island has gone live into commercial operation and has now been officially added to the company's electricity generation fleet as an operating asset.
The CCGT station, which is now the cleanest and most efficient natural gas power plant on Ireland's national grid, will generate enough energy to power the equivalent of half a million Irish homes of SSE Airtricity customers.
The final milestone in commissioning works at the new 464MW-rated plant was reached at 5.55 a.m. on Friday, April 17, when the plant began commercially generating energy for export to Ireland's national grid for the first time.
The commissioning of the new CCGT plant coincides with the immediate retirement of the existing 240MW heavy fuel oil power plant which was first commissioned at Great Island almost 50 years ago in 1967, marking the end of an era.
Commercial operation marks the culmination of months of commissioning activities to prove the new power station's capabilities following more than two years of construction. In September SSE's expert engineers, along with project teams from lead contractor DCI and turbine manufacturer Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, successfully fired-up and synchronised the new gas turbine to the grid for the very first time.
The project team, led by Head of Construction Charlie Cryans and Project Manager Drew Macadam, has now formally handed over the power station to SSE's Station Manager, Padraig Dunleavy.
Around 40 staff, most of whom have been recruited by SSE from Wexford and surrounding counties, will operate the new plant.
Rhys Stanwix, SSE's Director of Thermal Development said: 'The commencement of commercial operations this week at the Great Island CCGT is a great achievement for everyone involved in its delivery since construction works commenced on-site over two years ago.'
The project was acquired by SSE in October 2012 from Endesa Ireland in the very early stages of construction. Since then almost three million working hours have been expended by the entire project team in the delivery of the poweer plant, and at its peak over 1,200 contractors were employed on-site.
'The project has now been successfully delivered on budget and to the highest safety and environmental standards in line with SSE's core values of safety, excellence and teamwork. This achievement is a tribute to the contribution of everyone involved, and it's one that every team member can be proud of.
'On behalf of everyone in the SSE Project Team I would also like to extend our thanks to everyone in the local community whose support through the lifetime of the project has been invaluable in ensuring its successful delivery. It only remains for me to wish Padraig and all of the Generation Operations team every success in operating SSE's newest generation asset.'
The new Great Island CCGT will greatly increase SSE's share of electricity generated in Ireland. SSE, which is the third largest generator by capacity on the island, now owns and operates 1,809MW of thermal and renewable electricity generation, of which 1,266MW is thermal generation and 543MW is from onshore wind.
The decommissioning of the existing plant and the addition of the new gas-fired plant to SSE's generation fleet significantly decarbonises electricity generation in the all-island Single Electricity Market.