Clean gas power plant ‘largely complete’

The new 460 megawatt (MW) clean gas power station built by SSE Airtricity in Co Wexford is set to be fully operational in the coming months, when it will be capable of providing energy for half a million homes.

SSE Airtricity acquired the existing Great Island power station in Wexford in 2012 when it bought the Irish arm of Spanish utility Endesa for over €360m.

That deal also included the former ESB power stations at Tarbert in Co Kerry, Rhode in Co Offaly and Tawnaghmore in Mayo.

Construction at the new €330m Wexford clean gas generator — which will significantly de-carbonise power generation in the country — began two years ago, with the finished station set to replace the adjacent existing 240MW heavy oil power plant at Great Island before the end of this year.

In its latest trading update, issued yesterday, SSE — the Scottish firm which now owns Airtricity — said that construction at the replacement Great Island project is now “largely complete”.

“Many of the systems are already tested in advance of first-firing of the gas turbine, which is due shortly. The plant is expected to be fully operational in the latter part of 2014,” the company said.

Great Island is one of the largest infrastructural projects currently under construction on the island of Ireland and is the largest capital project, relating to power generation facilities, currently being developed by SSE anywhere in Britain or Ireland.

“When it was first commissioned, in 1967, the Great Island power station was Ireland’s premier power station and, today, at Great Island, SSE is constructing what will once again be Ireland’s premier power station when it is commissioned,” said project manager Peter Gavican.

Some €43m of the total €330m going into the Wexford project will fund a 41km industrial-grade gas pipeline from Bawnlusk, Co Kilkenny to Great Island.

As well as fuelling Great Island, the pipeline is expected to be a significant enabler of future industrial development in the south-east.


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