SSE Thermal is looking into ideas for the construction of two new low-carbon power plants in Ireland, which would help to safeguard supply security and offer flexible backup to renewable generation.
These new power plants, which would initially run on sustainable biofuel and have the option to switch to hydrogen in the future, might be built on sites in Tarbert in County Kerry and Platin in County Meath.
When plans for expanded use of hydrogen and carbon capture are developed, biofuel offers a lower carbon option for use in power plants by using waste feedstocks to produce useful flexible electricity. This makes it an important interim solution. According to EU sustainability guidelines, the proposed units will run on hydrotreated vegetable oil (or HVO), which is created by refining waste oils to produce a fossil-free substitute for diesel.
Up to 450MW of new generation capacity might be added to the grid as a result of development at the two sites, with up to 300MW at Tarbert and 150MW at Platin. These new power plants, which are currently in the planning stages and awaiting a final investment decision, might go into service as early as 2027 and have the ability to support Ireland’s need for low-carbon hydrogen.
The current SSE Tarbert Power Station must shut down by the end of 2023 in order to comply with its environmental license. Between 1966 and 1977, when Ireland’s Rural Electrification Programme’s final stages were being carried out and demand for energy was on the rise, it was gradually developed. When it was completely commissioned, it was the biggest station on the network. The area is perfect for a new low-carbon plant, facilitating a just transition away from high-carbon activities because it has a long history of electricity generation and local expertise.
The Single Electricity Market’s impending capacity auction, which is a crucial instrument for supplying the extra units required to satisfy rising demand and replace aging assets, is where these proposed stations are scheduled to compete. A “national priority” according to the government’s 2021 Policy Statement on Security of Electricity Supply is the delivery of such flexible units.