The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) of the European Union has awarded an additional €8.28 million (US$9.26 million) to Project CAES Larne, NI – a 330 MW energy storage project using compressed air energy storage technology (CAES) which is being developed by Gaelectric on the Islandmagee peninsula near the port town of Larne in Northern Ireland.
The Larne CAES Project was designated as a European Project of Common Interest (PCI) in 2013, and has previously been awarded (in July 2015) EU grant support of €6.5 million (US$7.3 million) for front end engineering and design studies. This latest award is for the drilling of an appraisal well, and detailed studies into the design and commercial structure of the project.
The Larne CAES Project will store energy in the form of compressed air in especially engineered caverns created within geological salt deposits at depths of approximately 1.5 km below ground level at the northern end of the Islandmagee peninsula on the east coast of Northern Ireland. It will provide large scale generation capacity to Northern Ireland, helping to integrate electricity generation from renewables and enhance energy security in both the United Kingdom and Ireland.
The Larne CAES Project is one of nine projects recently recommended for financing under Europe’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) where a total of €263 million will be invested in key trans-European energy infrastructure projects.
Commenting, Keith McGrane, Head of Energy Storage at Gaelectric, said:
“€8.28 million in additional EU financing is a major boost to the Project and a further validation of the importance and need for the Project, both for Northern Ireland and for wider UK and European energy markets. The Project will provide critical generation capacity of 330 MW for periods of up to 6 to 8 hours duration which is enough to meet the electricity needs of over 200,000 homes, and create demand on the system of 250 MW. It will also be the first in a pipeline of CAES projects which Gaelectric is developing across the rest of the United Kingdom and into Europe, each designed to help system operators meet generation needs and the challenges of increasing renewable generation being connected to Europe’s power systems. Northern Ireland and Larne will be the vanguards for safe, flexible and technologically advanced energy storage.”
“With CAES, Northern Ireland will once again consolidate its position as a leading international exponent of engineering innovation and excellence.”
Commenting, Gaelectric Corporate Affairs Manager, Patrick McClughan, said:
“Gaelectric and our CAES project partners are committed to maximising the economic benefits for the local community and local businesses. These will be a mixture of direct jobs at the site and in companies supplying the site both during its construction and operational phases, and indirect benefits in the forms of additional, reliable large scale generation coming onto the system, greater energy security and more competitive energy pricing. Other opportunities will be developed, including technology and environmental tourism where Northern Ireland can demonstrate to visitors – both leisure and professional – how CAES works and benefits it will be providing to the operation of the energy system in Northern Ireland.”
“Over the coming months, we will be engaging with local businesses and the development authorities in Northern Ireland to discuss the supply chain opportunities that can be expected from the Larne CAES Project.”
The European Commission said:
“The nine selected projects will increase energy security and help end the isolation of EU countries from EU-wide energy networks. They will also help enhance competition on the European energy market and thus contribute to ensuring that consumers get best value for their money.”