ESB plans €2bn investment in British energy market

THE ESB is planning to invest up to €2 billion building up a strong presence in the British electricity market over the next decade, according to chief executive Padraig McManus.

Speaking at the opening of the group’s €500 million Marchwood Power plant in Southampton yesterday, Mr McManus said the next decade presented “major opportunities” for the ESB to grow its business before Britain starts to undergo a major shift to nuclear energy over the next 20 years.

The plant is a joint venture with the major British group Scottish and Southern Energy. Marchwood Power is a large scale gas fired power station generating 840mw of gas fired power electricity to supply the needs of Southampton, the New Forest and Winchester.

Constructed over three years by Siemens the plant was delivered within budget. Marchwood employs 45 full-time staff and all of its output is contracted to SSE.

Manchester is the next target market that the group intends to exploit, he said.

ESB chairman Lochlann Quinn and Lord Smith of Kelvin, who is chairman of SSE officially, opened the plant in the presence of the top executives from the two companies.

Mr McManus said the opening of the plant was a significant milestone in furthering the presence of the ESB in the British energy market. The group’s wind generation interests and other gas-fired development projects place the ESB “on course to achieve its target” of creating over 3GW of generating capacity in Britain in the next 10 years.

This will be a critical part of the group’s expansion strategy, given the restrictions on it from building further capacity in Ireland, once its latest plant is commissioned in the next few months.

It also recognises that over the next decade Britain and Ireland will merge into a single energy market.

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