Northern Ireland's new power station one step closer as proposal secures £5m investment
Northern Ireland's first new standalone power station for over a decade has won a multimillion-pound investment, it was announced today.
The £280m gas-powered Belfast Harbour development by Belfast Power Ltd is to generate enough energy for 500,000 homes and businesses around the province - between 30% and 40% of Northern Ireland's energy needs.
Brothers Ciaran and Stephen Devine - directors of Belfast Power and parent company Evermore Renewable Energy, based in Londonderry - have won investment of around £5m from Crescent Capital to fund the development.
Around 350 people will work on the building of the combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power station between now and 2020, while around 50 people will work in it when complete.
Ciaran Devine said the power station would be "low-carbon" and "highly efficient".
"It will be the most efficient power station in the UK and Ireland, bringing down the amount of carbon it takes in Northern Ireland for us to generate electricity for homes," he added.
He said the use of "state of the art technology" from manufacturer Siemens would ensure the efficiency of the operation.
The company will now apply for planning permission for the power station - a process that will be handled by the Department for Infrastructure due to the station's scale and economic importance.
Mr Devine said he did not anticipate any environmental objections to the project.
"CCGT comes with very strong environmental credentials, and we will be sitting down to go through a very rigorous process with planners," he explained.
The company already operates a plant using renewable energy from biomass at Lisnahally in Londonderry. But Mr Devine said the requirements of heating a large number of homes and businesses could not be met from a renewable biomass plant.
"Northern Ireland has got ageing power stations and there's been no new investment or development in form of new power generation in years," he added.
"We've seen an opportunity there and we believe it demands a new power station to keep up with energy requirements."
The company will now be seeking investment from capital markets for the project.
Colin Walsh, managing director of Crescent Capital, said: "We have formed a very positive working relationship with the Evermore team, which has a proven track record of delivery with this type of development."
Neasa Quigley, a commercial law partner at Carson McDowell, said new power stations were needed to replace lost capacity at Ballylumford and Kilroot.
The capacity of the new plant will be 400 megawatts, compared to 17 megawatts at the Lisnahally plant.