£280m power station could provide half of Northern Ireland's energy needs if approved
A new £280m power station is a step closer after plans for what will become the largest such investment here in two decades were submitted, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.
Evermore is developing a huge gas-fired plant at Belfast Harbour.
Co-founder Ciaran Devine told this newspaper it could power up to 50% of Northern Ireland's homes and businesses.
He also said the project could help "achieve security of supply going forward".
That comes after a Westminster committee reported that the province will need more energy than can be supplied by 2021.
The new power station will take around two-and-a-half years to construct.
The company has submitted a detailed masterplan for the development.
Mr Devine, director of Belfast Power Ltd - the company running the project - told this newspaper: "A full planning application has now been submitted for the Belfast power station project.
"Belfast Power Ltd and our consultants are continuing to work closely with planning officials in the Department for Infrastructure, who have been thoroughly professional in their approach to the project so far.
"We are hopeful that a decision can be made on the outcome of the planning application before the end of this year.
"With an output of 480MW, it will play a vital role in providing low-carbon electricity to more than 500,000 homes and businesses,
"Importantly, the submission of the planning application coincides with a report from the House of Commons Northern Ireland Affairs Committee that said Northern Ireland needs new generating capacity to ensure we have enough electricity to meet demand after 2021.
"As a local firm, we are delighted our project will help achieve security of supply."
Belfast Power Ltd is proposing to develop a Combined Cycle Gas Turbine power station at Airport Road West in the Belfast Harbour Estate.
The development could include an underground gas pipeline connection and above-ground gas installation.
Mr Devine said that, at its peak, the power station could provide between 40% and 50% of Northern Ireland's needs.
"It's Northern Ireland's largest private investment for over 20 years," he added.
"It's a conventional power station and will run off a conventional gas line that comes into Northern Ireland. It's the cleanest way of producing that sort of energy."
Mr Devine is one half of Belfast-based Evermore, alongside brother Stephen.
The energy company has already built an £83m biomass-fuelled power station in Londonderry, the first of its kind here.
The 15.8MW biomass station sells directly into the grid and provides power for around 30,000 homes and businesses across Northern Ireland.
Already up and running for a year, it created 200 jobs during construction.
Two of Northern Ireland's major existing power stations will have to reduce their capacity in the next few years.
That is in order to comply with rules around pollution for stations still fuelled by coal and oil.
It comes after a report from the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee this week said that unless action was taken to prevent a deficit in electricity supply within the next four years, Northern Ireland could face further unwelcome increases in energy bills.
Improving electricity connection between the North and South will help alleviate concerns, the report added.
The number of homes and businesses the new plant would provide with low-carbon electricity