Nine new gas-fired power plants are due to be built in Ireland by 2024 to cope with soaring demand for electricity and to head off a potential shortage of power on the island.
The proposed new plants in areas including Athlone and Rochfortbridge in Westmeath, Galway and Dublin will be built following a recent capacity auction jointly held by the grid operator Eirgrid and its Northern Ireland equivalent, SONI.
Eight of the new plants are in the Republic, with one in the North. A new biomass power plant will also be developed in Offaly by a subsidiary of Bord na Móna.
In the auction, the results of which were released on Friday, regulators trebled the price of the payments companies would receive for the electricity produced at the new plants, after a similar auction last year failed to generate enough interest.
Some of the new power plants will be built by existing players in the Irish power generation market, such as ESB, while others will be built by new investors in the sector here. Among the largest tenders won at the auction is one involving new entrant Kilshane Energy, which plans to spend €150 million on a 253 megawatt (MW) plant in Huntstown in north Dublin.
Kilshane is represented by Northern Ireland businessman Stuart Draffin, although its financial backers are not yet apparent from the brand new entity's company filings. It has already submitted a planning application for the proposed plant.
Castlelost Flex Gen, which is backed by the investors behind Lumcloon Energy, won with its bid to build a major new gas plant and battery storage facility in Rochfortbridge, which local reports estimated could represent an investment of up to €500 million.
Bord Gáis Energy won with a bid to build two facilities in Dublin and Athlone, in conjunction with its joint venture partner Mountside Partners, which is backed by energy entrepreneur Brian Keogh.
“We are delighted to invest in additional flexible power generation which will support the critical growth of renewables whilst maintaining the stability of energy supply in Ireland,” said a spokesperson for Bord Gáis Energy. “The technology selected can also be converted to run on green hydrogen in the future in support of Ireland’s ambition to decarbonise the electricity system.”
The backers of the existing Tynagh plant in Galway, which is majority owned by Czech investors, also won with a new bid for a new gas plant on a nearby site.
The proposed new gas plants, which are all at various stages of the planning process, will be capable of being switched on and off at short notice, to be used to support the grid in times of high demand.
In total following the auction, 1,167MW of new gas-fired power plants are proposed. One megawatt is considered enough power for 1,000 homes.