An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD, last week joined SSE staff and guests at the opening of Ireland’s newest and one of its most efficient power plants, the 464MW Great Island Clean Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT) in County Wexford.
Developed by SSE, Ireland’s second largest energy utility, Great Island represents an investment of more than €350m and has the capacity to power more than half a million homes on the Irish grid.
As part of the project, SSE invested €43m in completing a 41km industrial-grade gas pipeline from Bawnlusk, Co. Kilkenny. Developed in partnership with Gas Networks Ireland, this strategic asset has brought gas to the South East for the first time.
In addition to the 41km pipeline, a 29km natural gas pipeline connecting Great Island to Wexford town has been approved by the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER), and gas network operator Gaslink says it expects natural gas to be available to large customers in Wexford by July 2016.
We did a tour of the plant last week as it is now totally gas fired having been running on diesel since the early days.
It has been running since April and the gas comes from the Euro grid, from countries like the UK and Holland with the North Sea Gas and further afield with gas from Algeria via France and Russia via Germany.
In the future when it comes on stream the Corrib gas supply from the West of Ireland can be used here and give security of energy supply for Ireland , Waterford and the south east, as it is all part of national grid.
The gas is converted to energy with water and steam, local waters are used to cool down the energy and turbine facilities and the main water utilised is off the Irish Water Supply.
As a result of this gas energy, the plant has now become one of the most productive in the grid, supplying 10 per cent of the Irish with up to 465 megawatts.
SSE Airtricity purchased much equipment from Mitsubishi in Japan and there was also a Hyundai system available after a contract fell through in Spain that the company were able to purchase. Other major plant from the USA and also Siemens control equipment was used.
Waterford Port assisted in the landing of the major equipment and fuel for the diesel plant and some other petroleum products are also used in the system
Sisk were the main contractors and many local firms like Hennesseys, CMP in New Ross and Murphy Engineers all got work form the project.
Manager, Padriag Donleavy said that 1100 staff were working over a few years on the project.
One of the biggest jobs was bringing in the gas over 40km from Knocktopher.
This was from the Dublin Waterford gas pipeline.
Even local farmers helped out when staff got snowed in one occasion and were bought out on 4 wheel drives and heavy vehicles.
With 42 staff employed it is a great boost for the Suir estuary area.
Padraig says the type of staff working there are fitters, mechanical engineers, electrical engineers using control and instrumental equipment. Environmental engineers and scientists as well as security staff, so a wide range of skills are needed and many staff were retrained over the years for the new plant.
The plant’s future had been uncertain on two occasions in the 1980s and 5 years ago but now the new investment is a great boost and is one of the best energy efficient plants in Ireland.
We must say it is a most impressive operation and one that we in the south east should be proud to have in our region.
The Great Island CCGT project was acquired by SSE in October 2012 from Endesa Ireland in the very early stages of construction – that acquisition represented an investment by SSE of half a billion euro into the future of Irish energy.
The culmination of commissioning and construction marks the end of what has been a three year project development journey. During this period, over 1,200 contractors were employed on-site, around 80% of whom were local to Co. Wexford and the South East. Around 3 million working hours were expended by SSE’s project team in the delivery of this world class asset.
The Great Island plant entered commercial operation on Friday 17 April when it began exporting energy to the All Island Single Electricity Market for the first time. SSE estimates that Great Island will save Irish energy customers in excess of €50m per year as one of Ireland’s most efficient power plants.
An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD, commented on the opening of Great Island CCGT:
“The €350 million invested in the Great Island Power Plant by SSE is of great benefit to the people of Wexford, the South East region and the country as a whole, providing over 1,200 construction jobs and over 40 full time staff positions at the plant, bringing the total number of staff employed directly by SSE in Ireland to 820.”
Gregor Alexander, Lead Director for Ireland and Finance Director, SSE, commented:
“I’m proud to say that the Great Island project has been successfully delivered on budget and to the highest safety and environmental standards in line with SSE’s core values of Safety, Excellence and Teamwork.”
The commissioning of the new CCGT plant coincides with the retirement of the existing 240MW heavy fuel oil power plant which was first commissioned at Great Island almost 50 years ago in 1967. SSE’s investment in the new clean gas power plant at Great Island displaces oil with gas, further improving carbon intensity and underpinning SSE Airtricity’s heritage as a greener energy provider.