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New Co Antrim energy storage facility could cut bills


The renewable energy group Gaelectric is building a £300m storage facility in Larne

The renewable energy group Gaelectric is building a £300m storage facility in Larne

Darren Kidd /Presseye.com

The renewable energy group Gaelectric is building a £300m storage facility in Larne

Energy giant AES has started work on its battery-based energy storage facility in Kilroot, Co Antrim - its first in the UK.

The storage facility could mean cheaper electricity if its bid to harness the full power of Northern Ireland's wind energy resources is successful.

AES is part of a US firm and owns and operates the Kilroot and Ballylumford power stations.

Ireland and UK plant manager Roger Casement said: "We are excited to begin construction of AES' first energy storage project in the UK, bringing enhanced reliability, flexibility and efficiency to the grid.

"We're proud to offer Northern Ireland a cost-effective and cutting-edge solution for supporting security of supply and modernising our infrastructure."

All installation work will be delivered by firms from Northern Ireland, AES said.

The company said the Kilroot operation will help balance supply and demand and support the all island transmission grid via system operator SONI.

Mid and East Antrim Mayor Billy Ashe said the project involved a lot of companies from the area.

"The 10MW installation will be built using local firms, as well as the expertise of Kilroot," he said.

"The skills currently being developed by people in Mid and East Antrim can create a positive economic impact for the area as the UK and Ireland realise the benefits of energy storage for security of supply and lowering carbon emissions."

One major contract was awarded to Belfast-based Scotts Electrical Services, using subcontractors from across Northern Ireland.

Technical drawings, project management and health, safety and environmental oversight will come from Project Design Engineers Ltd, a company from Antrim.

Switchboard manufacturing will be undertaken by R&R Electrical Engineering from Newtonwards. Carrick-based WC Anthony will provide all civil construction services. Heating, ventilation and air conditioning has been procured from AirCon in Belfast.

Irish renewable energy group Gaelectric is also embarking on a separate £300m storage facility in Larne, which it has said could lead to more than 500 jobs.

The facility in Larne will use compressed air energy storage (CAES) technology.

The EU last week agreed to provide financing of up to €6.47m (£4.5m) for the project, designated as a Project of Common Interest (PCI) under the EU programme to promote energy infrastructure.

CAES facilities store excess energy from the grid by converting it into compressed air, which is then stored in caverns created within salt layers.

In a separate move, Gaelectric has joined forces with US electric car marker Tesla - led by Elon Musk - on battery energy projects around Ireland.

Their aim is to reduce the need for renewables to be backed up by fossil fuels.