County Council approves plans for backup gas power plant

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Galway County Council has approved plans to build a backup gas power plant at Tynagh, between Loughrea and Portumna.

The council has okayed plans by EP Energy Developments for an Open Cycle Gas Turbine power plant, with associated infrastructure, at the site of Tynagh Power Station.

The plant is meant to operate as a “peaking plant”, providing additional capacity at times when the grid is strained due to high demand.

It will primarily burn natural gas, but will also have the capacity to run on locally stored distillate fuel.

The plant will have a total of 12 permanent staff, divided into three administrative staff, and three shift of three operatives each.

The developer also says that some 200 jobs will be supported during the construction phase of the €110 million project.

The plant will operate up to a maximum of 1,500 hours each year, calculated on the basis of the four hour high-demand period each day, from 4pm-8pm.

Information submitted by the developer at the request of the county council states that there is flexibility within this for lower demand in summer, and greater need during winter.

There were a total of 16 submissions made to the county council related to this project, raising a significant number of objections.

Concerns were expressed about the potential visual and noise impact from the plant, as well as the potential effect of emissions on human health.

A large number of objections were also raised based on Ireland’s climate obligations, arguing that building a fossil fuel plant is not compatible with climate goals.

In their application, EP Energy has stressed that the National Development Plan calls for the delivery of an additional 2GW of conventional electricity generation to support the transition to a predominantly wind and solar based grid

Planning permission was granted by the county council with a total of 27 conditions attached.

The council ordered that the maximum output of the peaking plant shall be 299MW, which was already what the developer said it would be.

One condition stipulated that power plant will have an operational life of 25 years, after which all structures must be removed, and the site reinstated in a plan to be agreed with the council.

In additional information which was submitted to the council the developer said that the 25 year operational life it aimed for was based on the design.

This would include regular reviews to identify potential modifications which could extend its operational life, but this would be subject to further approval from the council.