Green power firm's Northern Ireland storage plan could create 530 jobs
Renewable energy group Gaelectric has revealed plans for a £300million storage facility in Co Antrim which could lead to more than 500 jobs.
The facility in Larne will use compressed air energy storage (CAES) technology - the first time it has been adapted for use along with intermittent sources such as wind and solar.
Gaelectric quoted an economic assessment by PMCA Economic Consulting, which found the project would lead to 532 full-time equivalent jobs. Of this, there would be 200 posts directly involved in the project, and another 332 "created or sustained in other sectors through indirect and induced effects".
PMCA also found the project would boost economic activity in Northern Ireland by £161m, with £75m in direct spending and a further £86m in "indirect effects".
CAES facilities store excess energy from the grid by converting it into compressed air, which is then stored in caverns created within salt layers. From those stores it can be released through an electricity generator for later use by operators. The method has been used in Germany and Alabama in the US.
Gaelectric chief executive Brendan McGrath said bulk energy storage was "centre stage" as Northern Ireland grappled with capacity constraints and interconnection problems.
"The CAES Project will provide bulk, grid-level storage that is responsive, safe, effective and supports the integration of Northern Ireland's renewable energy resource," he said. Salt deposits in east Antrim had "unique potential" for storage caverns, he added.