New gas-fired ESB station opens at Aghada

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THE OPENING of a new €360 million gas-fired generating station by the ESB at Aghada in east Cork was yesterday hailed as improving the country’s security of energy supply while also contributing to a cleaner environment.

According to ESB chairman Lochlann Quinn, the construction of the new 435 megawatt (MW)generating station at Aghada illustrated how the company was committed to providing low-carbon electricity to its customers.

The investment in the new station, along with a €75 million upgrading of the four existing units at Aghada which have a combined capacity of 528MW, means the entire Aghada site is now Ireland’s largest power station capable of generating 963MW.

Mr Quinn said the combined-cycle gas-turbine generating plant was the lowest electricity emitter of carbon from any conventional power station in Ireland and represented state-of-the-art technology.

He said the large investment in the new plant, which was built over three years by French engineering company Alstom Power Ltd, was a major boost to the local economy in east Cork, and secured 80 jobs at the plant.

The new gas-fired station is supplied with gas through a 10km pipeline linked to the Bord Gáis-owned supply network, with 50 per cent coming from the North Sea, 25 per cent coming from Norway and 25 per cent coming from the European Grid through Scotland into Northern Ireland and then south.

ESB chief executive Padraig McManus said the very high efficiency rate of the Aghada power station meant it would remain not only the foremost generator in Ireland but also among the best in Europe.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin, who officially opened the plant yesterday, said the project guaranteed electricity-generation and jobs for decades to come in the Cork area, while also meeting the highest environmental standards.

Meanwhile, in a separate development also in east Cork, Kinsale Energy announced it had commenced feasibility studies on an expansion to quadruple the company’s existing gas storage facilities in east Cork in a €400-€500 million project.

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