The closed West Offaly Power Station in Shannonbridge may not now be demolished for three or four years, it has emerged.

Reprieve for former Shannonbridge power station building

The former West Offaly power station building at Shannonbridge has been given a reprieve from demolition for at least four more years.

The Electricity Supply Board has now admitted that it will not be possible to demolish the former power station as planned, until a temporary emergency generation plant being developed on the same site is no longer operational.

Construction is currently underway on that temporary gas-fired power plant designed to help offset potential power shortages in Ireland.

It involves eight gas turbine units, 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.

This temporary generation capacity will be in place until 2027 at the earliest, it has been stated, with provision in the legislation to extend to 2028, meaning that the existing power station will not be demolished until, at least, 2027.

The ESB had earlier this year received planning permission to demolish the station and to develop and operate a Battery Energy Storage (BESS) and a Synchronous Condenser (Sync Con).

However, earlier this month, the ESB sought new planning permission to pursue just one element of the project, the synchronous condenser, stating that it was not possible to undertake some other elements of the planning permission, such as the demolition and the the construction of the BESS, whilst the emergency generation plant was operational.

There was sadness locally when it was confirmed the iconic 80-metre-high stack as well as the rest of the station would be demolished, as well as unhappiness in some political circles that alternative users were not pursued for the building.

The West Offaly Power station closed in Shannonbridge in late 2020, bringing the curtain down on 55 years of electricity generation. The village has been synonymous with peat-fired electricity generation since a 40MW station first went into production in late January 1965. The existing peat-fired plant was only commissioned in 2005 after the €240 million construction project concluded and was closed at the end of 2020.

The ESB, however, has made clear that it intends, in the future, to implement the remainder of the planning permission granted, including the demolition of the station.