Northern Ireland energy storage project awarded €90 million EU grant


The rocky Antrim coast of Northern Ireland: Gaelectric’s air compression technology will operate within underground salt deposits in the region.

Irish renewable energy firm Gaelectric announced on 2 April that the European Union has awarded a €90 million grant for works under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) to its energy storage project near Larne in Northern Ireland.

The project employs compressed air energy storage (‘CAES’) technology to compress and store air within specially designed caverns created within naturally occurring salt deposits deep underground. Such salt deposits are located on the east Antrim coast of Northern Ireland.

The project has been designated a Project of Common Interest (‘PCI’) since 2013 under the EU’s TEN-E Regulation to support the delivery of trans-European energy infrastructure. The project will be capable of generating 330MW of power for periods of 6 to 8 hours and creating 250MW of demand on the system. Bulk energy storage will become critical to integrating increasing amounts of intermittent renewable power from wind and solar onto transmission grids in support of both Ireland and the UK’s binding renewable energy targets.

The project has been awarded two previous grants from the Europe Union in 2015 and 2016 totalling €15 million.

Commenting on this latest award, Gaelectric Commercial Director Joe O’Carroll said: “While clearly delighted with this latest award from the EU, we view this as an important endorsement of the contribution that the project will make towards improving the efficiency and sustainability of electricity transmission systems in Britain and Ireland. This project is the first of a pipeline of projects employing CAES technology which Gaelectric is working on at several locations across Europe. We look forward to continuing our work with the authorities in Northern Ireland, with local communities and with the European Commission and the CEF Coordination Committee in bringing the project to fruition.”

This latest award forms part of the EU Commission’s proposal to invest €444 million in priority European energy infrastructure projects announced in February. The 18 projects selected will contribute to achieving the Energy Union’s goals by connecting European energy networks, increasing security of energy supply, and contributing to sustainable development by integrating renewable energy sources across the EU.

In announcing this latest award, the EU said: “A €90 million EU grant will support the implementation of this innovative energy storage project, which will contribute to system flexibility and stability and facilitate the large-scale penetration of renewables into energy markets.”

Further information on the announcement from the European Union is available at https://ec.europa.eu/energy/en/news/eu-invests-444-million-euros-energy-infrastructure .

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