One of the units being provided by GE Vernova.

Work starts ahead of installation of Shannonbridge temporary generators

Plans to develop temporary emergency generation on the former West Offaly power station site in Shannonbridge are progressing.

However, eight planned open-cycle gas turbine units, fuelled by diesel oil, have not yet been installed on the site, the ESB has said.

The company confirmed to this paper that the project is at the “civil works stage” which involves “preparing the ground for the generators to be installed and commissioned in the coming months”.

The company also confirmed that it is still expected that the new plant will commence operation for the coming 2023/2024 winter season.

The Shannonbridge project will also include eight 30-metre tall steel exhaust stacks and two 110kV generator step-up transformers.

The emergency plant will have a maximum running time of 500 hours per annum, and operate only intermittently to meet emergency supply needs.

The project was given the go-ahead by the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan in April last, after an assessment by An Bord Pleanála of the ESB proposal.

The ESB said: “As set out by the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU), this capacity is temporary is nature, will be used as a generator of last resort and will not be an active participant in the wholesale electricity market.

“At the point in time when new enduring capacity has removed the need for temporary emergency generation, the plant will cease operation and will be removed from the site

The project is being pursued following legislation designed to address potential electricity supply deficit over the coming winters being passed by the Oireachtas late last year.

The project is independent of the ESB's plan to demolish the existing power station and develop battery storage systems at Shannonbridge.

This temporary generation capacity will be in place until 2027 at the earliest, with provision in the legislation to extend to 2028.

The Commission for for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) had indicated that if the proposed emergency generation did not proceed, there would be a clear risk that power outages could occur.

Meanwhile, GE Vernova’s Gas Power business, part of the prominent GE Vernova energy company, announced in late July that it has been contracted by the ESB to supply the gas turbines and to provide operation and maintenance activities

It said the plant is designed to provide flexible, quick start-up emergency power that helps to ensure a reliable source of temporary power and thereby reduces the risk of power supply shortages over the operating term.

“Emergency power plants, like Shannonbridge, need to start quickly and run when electricity demand is high and generation capacity from other sources available on the system is at risk of not meeting demand,” said Joseph Anis, President & CEO, Europe, Middle East & Africa at GE Vernova’s Gas Power business. “We’re proud to continue to work with ESB and to be bringing one of the best and most efficient aeroderivative packages and Operation & Maintenance services at the Shannonbridge Power Plant and contribute to the security of Ireland’s electricity supply.”