Plans for new ESB power station at Poolbeg in doubt

Planning authorities raise concerns about choice of location in Dublin for new facility

Poolbeg power station. The ESB is seeking planning permission to build a new 75 megawatt plant at the Ringsend site. Photograph: David Dear/Construction Photography/Avalon/Getty Images

Poolbeg power station. The ESB is seeking planning permission to build a new 75 megawatt plant at the Ringsend site. Photograph: David Dear/Construction Photography/Avalon/Getty Images

 

Plans for a new ESB power station at Poolbeg are in doubt as planning authorities have raised concerns about the choice of location for the new facility.

The ESB is seeking planning permission from Dublin City Council to build a new 75 megawatt flexible thermal generation plant at the Ringsend site.

However, council planners have questioned the location of the development and why alternative sites on other ESB lands were not considered.

“There are many disused buildings and brownfield areas within the ESB lands which are not as prominent or as sensitively located as the selected site,” observed the council.

It claimed the rationale was unclear why the ESB planned to locate a diesel storage tank adjacent to a beach when there was an increased environmental risk.

The council has requested the ESB to provide it with a master plan for its overall lands and specifically the future use of the site when the temporary “flexgen” plant was no longer required.

It claimed an environmental impact assessment screening report was inadequate as it failed to refer to EU-protected wetlands located across the road from the proposed plant or that it was located within the Dublin Bay Unesco biosphere reserve.

Council planners said there were “serious deficiencies” in documents filed by the ESB in its application and a lack of information about the sensitive location of the site and how and when the proposed development would be constructed.

They also pointed out that a 30m chimney stack could have potential impacts on protected bird species.

Intermittent operation

The ESB said the operational nature of the proposed natural gas-fired turbine on a three-hectare site on Pigeon House Road was different to traditional plants as it would not operate on a continual basis but intermittently during peak periods of electricity demand.

The company said the development would facilitate an increased level of renewable electricity generation on the Irish grid by being available as a back-up supply option during the hours of the day when demand for electricity was highest.

The ESB said it believed the development of flexible thermal generation plants would become more common in order to help Ireland meet its renewable-energy targets.

At least 16 per cent of total energy consumption and 40 per cent of all electricity must come from renewable-energy sources by 2020.

The ESB said its own plans to phase out all its coal and peat power plants by 2030 meant electricity demand would be met by increasing levels of intermittent renewables.

It claimed “flexgen” developments such as the proposed plant in Poolbeg were well suited to providing such flexibility in a cost-effective manner.

“The proposed development will help to maintain the long-term stability of the electricity system in Ireland,” the ESB said.

If granted permission, the company hopes the new plant would become fully operational by October 2022.