THE Czech owner of Kilroot Power Station in Co Antrim has said its £600 million proposal to transform the coal-fired power station into a new low-carbon energy park, could preserve more than 150 permanent jobs on the site.
Energetický a Prumyslový Holding (EPH) acquired the Kilroot and Ballylumford stations as part of a £163m deal with US group AES in June 2019.
But with the UK Government committed to phasing out coal power stations by 2025, EPH’s UK entity, EP UK Investments (EPUKI) has moved to modernize the site.
The company wants to harness gas and renewable sources to generate up to 440MW of energy, enough to power around 500,000 homes.
The Irish News revealed in March how EPUKI had launched €96 million (£82m) tender process to source gas fired generating units for both Co Antrim facilities.
EPH is partly owned by billionaire Daniel Kretínský. It employs around 25,000 people across Europe.
The company has been buying up older struggling coal-fired power plants across the continent.
It is now proposing what describes as the largest single investment in energy infrastructure and generation in the history of Northern Ireland.
Alongside the gas-fired units, Kilroot Energy Park would feature solar, battery storage, hydrogen and a multi fuel combined heat and power (CHP) facility.
EPUKI’s commercial director, Ian Luney said the plan would ensure Kilroot remains of significant strategic importance for the north’s energy industry.
The group is also proposing a data centre and an education and learning centre on the site, while part of the land along Belfast Lough would be given over to biodiversity projects.
‘’Everyone involved with EPUKI is excited about taking this vision forward,” said Mr Luney.
“There is a lot of work ahead of us, but the transition away from coal to lower carbon and renewable energy generation presents an incredible opportunity to transform the site.
“In the coming months and years we will further develop the proposals and in doing so we will engage with local stakeholders and elected representatives, Mid And East Antrim Council and Stormont.
“Above all, we want people in the local area to understand that EPUKI is committed to investing in the site and its long-term future, to ensure it continues generating electricity for homes and businesses across Northern Ireland.’’
Welcoming the announcement, Economy Minister Diane Dodds said: “Having met with representatives of the company earlier in the year to hear their plans I am delighted to see them come to realisation.
‘’This represents a significant milestone and investment in the transition away from coal to lower carbon and renewable energy generation and is to be applauded.
“Work is currently underway within my Department on a new Energy Strategy which is being developed in the context of the UK’s legislative target of net zero carbon by 2050 on which we intend to consult by the end of 2020/21.”
Source: Irish News, Ryan McAleer 10/7/2020