Tuesday 19 June 2007

Green light for Mayo Power plant

THE €140million Combined Heat and Power 100 megawatt Mayo Power plant is to go ahead at the former Asahi site at Killala.

Permission has been granted by An Bord Pleanala for the continued use of the existing power generation unit on site to the west of the ESB substation which was granted for a period of five years.

Planning permission was also granted for the construction of an identical type of electricity generation unit to be located to the immediate north of the existing unit.

Each unit is 36.5 metres long and 16.7 metres wide, comprising of control unit, electricity plant and equipment with a stack rising 20 metres in height.

The plant will be a 100MW mixed fuel combined heat and power plant and will utilise available wood from North West forests to the maximum, providing a market for the thinnings from the newly developed private forests. It will also purchase peat and wood from local fast rotation crops. A small percentage of coal will be used to complete the fuel mix. This planned local purchase of feedstock alone is estimated to be worth •20 million per annum.

The planning application was originally lodged on July 21st, 2006 and in its decision on December 19th, Mayo County Council issued notification to grant planning permission for the plant at Tawnagh-more Lower, Tawnaghmore Upper and Mullafarry, Killala, subject to nine conditions.

This was subsequently appealed by Stephen Dowds, Planning Consultant on behalf of Mayo Power Limited.

Senior Planning Inspector Paul Caprani carried out his assessment and recommended that planning permission should be granted for the proposed development, but that this planning should be limited to a period of five years.

In accordance with the appellant, the inspector agreed that permission should be limited as energy production methods may need to be reviewed at a later date in order to facilitate more sustainable forms of renewable energy in terms of allowing access to the national grid.

The former Asahi site currently has access to a sub-station feeding the existing 110KV transmission line and will be designed to supply a flexible and despatchable load to what is currently considered one of the weakest locations on the National Grid.

Mayo Power Ltd Directors, including Myles Staunton and US-based investor Gerald C. Crotty, will be happy with the recent development. During the last bout of talks with the independent transmission operator, EirGrid, Myles Staunton emphasised the economic efficiency of the plant. “We have analysed the respective economics of a 100MW gas fired plant at the Asahi site versus the 100MW mixed fuel alternative as proposed by Mayo Power and before any indirect benefits are taken into account, such as employment and feedstock purchase, we estimate that our plant will deliver power at significantly lower costs than the corresponding price of gas for a similar sized installation at the Asahi site.”

Mayo Power’s project to establish a sustainable power plant to generate effective power and steam was unveiled last October and will see a total of 140 invested into the area. It is estimated that this will create over 250 direct and indirect jobs.

Anna-Marie Flynn
© Western People

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