A massive £600m energy park could be built around the site of one of Northern Ireland’s main power stations, it has been revealed.
The owner of Kilroot power station, based near Carrickfergus in Co Antrim, has outlined early plans for a new ‘energy park’ which it says would have the potential to power 500,000 homes across Northern Ireland.
The plans, which developers say are “at early concept stage” include a new pipeline supplying natural gas, a transition from coal power to gas, a solar farm, battery storage, a hydrogen facility and visitor centre.
A detailed application planning application has already been submitted which will begin Kilroot’s transition from coal to gas-powered.
“If taken forward in its entirety, the Kilroot Energy Park vision, would have the potential to generate up to 440MW of lower carbon and renewable energy, which is enough to power 500,000 homes,” developers say.
“The investment in the site would also safeguard hundreds of jobs and mark a historic milestone in the decarbonisation of electricity generation in Northern Ireland.”
Ian Luney, commercial director of EPUKI, which owns Kilroot, said: “For decades now, the coal fired generating units at Kilroot have provided a hugely strategic and important source of electricity for homes and businesses across Northern Ireland.
“With the UK Government committed to phasing out coal powered electricity generation by 2025 and with Northern Ireland determined to lead the way in lower carbon and renewable energy generation, we have a fantastic opportunity to transform the Kilroot site allowing it to continue to remain one of the prime and core indigenous electricity generation sites in Northern Ireland.
“Kilroot Energy Park will aim to deliver new highly flexible gas generation to complement the widespread use of renewable energy on the electricity system in Northern Ireland. This aligns with the strategic needs of the Northern Ireland system, which can utilise on any given day up to almost 70% of its electricity from renewable sources.’’
‘’In addition to this, we are looking at a range of other forms of renewable energy on the 230-acre site, including solar, battery storage, hydrogen and a Multi Fuel Combined Heat and Power (CHP) facility as well as a data centre.’’
Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, councillor Peter Johnston, said: “The scale of this potential investment and the vision outlined is incredible and I commend EPUKI for this outstanding work.
“This is brilliant news for Mid and East Antrim, and Northern Ireland, in terms of leading the way in the transformation of our energy services.
“Coming from a power generation background, it makes me extremely proud to see my hometown of Carrickfergus at the leading edge of innovation and investment for energy production.
“The masterplan unveiled today positions our area as the powerhouse for Northern Ireland and would result in the generation of ever-cleaner energy, substantial investment and employment - supporting our Council’s number one strategic priority, the economic growth of our borough.”
East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson said: “I’m hugely impressed by the plans outlined today which would secure Northern Ireland’s energy supply for many years to come.
“A secure energy supply is vital for sustainability and to attract inward investment.”