ESB shelves plan for €500m electricity generator at Poolbeg

State-owned energy group plans building smaller power plant at same Dublin location

ESB wants to build a 75MW plant at Poolbeg, one of several gas-burning generators the energy group intends building in Dublin. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

ESB wants to build a 75MW plant at Poolbeg, one of several gas-burning generators the energy group intends building in Dublin. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

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State-owned ESB has temporarily shelved plans for a €500 million electricity generator at Poolbeg in Dublin to focus on building a smaller power plant at the same location.

The energy group began formal talks with An Bord Pleanála late last year to build a 500-megawatt (MW) gas-fired electricity generator, which would produce enough electricity to power 500,000 homes, at Poolbeg.

ESB confirmed on Monday that it had halted discussions with planners for the “medium to long term” while details of recent decisions by An Bord Pleanála also show that the project has been shelved.

“While this project remains under consideration, we placed pre-application engagement with An Bord Pleanála on hold late last year to give priority to the development of the other generation projects on the site,” ESB said in a statement.

The group, which supplies power to homes and businesses through its Electric Ireland division, did not say how much it intended spending on building the 500MW plant.

However, as a general industry rule, a gas-fired power plant of that size would cost about €500 million to build.

Pre-application talks

ESB was in “pre-application” talks with planners about the plant. This is a formal discussion of the project required before the company could seek permission under laws designed to fast-track critical infrastructure projects.

The energy business also wants to build a 75MW plant at Poolbeg. This is one of several gas-burning generators that ESB intends building in Dublin that will be used to back up wind farms.

The smaller facilities can be switched on quickly to step in and supply electricity to the country’s grid when wind speeds are too low to generate power.

ESB recently reported that it earned pretax profits of €338 million last year and it pledged to pay an €88 million dividend to the exchequer.

Its annual report, just published, shows that the State company’s chief executive, Pat O’Doherty, earned €385,819 last year, the same as in 2018. His basic salary was €318,083. He received benefits of €15,570 and pension contribution of €52,166.