Renewable energy and energy storage group Gaelectric is to receive some €8.28 million in funding from the European Union to develop an energy storage project in Northern Ireland.
The 330MW Larne compressed-air energy storage (CAES) project was designated as a European Project of Common Interest in 2013, and was previously been awarded EU grant support of €6.5 million for front-end engineering and design studies. This latest award is for the drilling of an appraisal well, and detailed studies into the design and commercial structure of the project.
Keith McGrane, head of energy storage at Gaelectric, said the EU financing was a “major boost”. The project will provide critical generation capacity of 330MW for periods of up to six to eight hours duration which is enough to meet the electricity needs of more than 200,000 homes, and create demand on the system of 250MW.
It will also be the first in a pipeline of CAES projects Gaelectric is developing across the rest of the United Kingdom and into Europe, each designed to help system operators meet generation needs and the challenges of increasing renewable generation being connected to Europe’s power systems.
“Northern Ireland and Larne will be the vanguards for safe, flexible and technologically advanced energy storage,” Mr McGrane said.
The Larne CAES project will store energy in the form of compressed air in especially engineered caverns created within geological salt deposits at depths of about 1.5km at the northern end of the Islandmagee peninsula on the east coast of Northern Ireland.
It will provide large-scale generation capacity to Northern Ireland, helping to integrate electricity generation from renewables and enhance energy security in both the United Kingdom and Ireland.