AN APPLICATION has been lodged with An Bord Pleanála for a €300 million 325 megawatt gas-fired power station in Ferbane, Co Offaly.
The application by Offaly-based Lumcloon Energy, which plans to feed into the national grid at peak times as a back-up to wind energy, could create 50 jobs.
The proposed plant would operate on the site of the former ESB peat-burning Ferbane power station, which was demolished in 2002.
Lumcloon Energy applied to the Commission on Energy Regulation in 2008. It is hoping to be granted a licence this year.
Lumcloon Energy spokesman John Gallagher said the plant would create 500 jobs during construction and a further 50 permanent positions on completion.
“The hope is that the planning process will be dealt with by the end of this year or early in next year. Construction should take about two years; by 2012 we should be ready.”
The plant will consist of two generating units – a flexible unit consisting of two gas turbines and one steam turbine and a smaller simple-cycle unit. The simple-cycle unit is a reserve/peaking unit to support wind energy power plants in the event of a rapid fall-off in wind generation.
Lumcloon Energy says the plant will also be the first to use a new, more efficient design for condensing steam produced at the plant back into water.
The proposed plant has been specifically designed to support the Government’s plans to develop renewable energy.
As the Government plans to generate 40 per cent of Ireland’s energy from wind by 2020, the plant has been designed for quick back-up in case of energy shortages due to calm weather, said Mr Gallagher.
The proposal has been met with approval locally. “We have held a number of consultations and briefing meetings over a year, and there has been strong support locally,” said Mr Gallagher.
Local councillor Eamon Dooley (FF) welcomed the proposed site.
“The site they have there was already an industrial site and it is going to be a lot cleaner then what we had there before.”
He said although the introduction of a gas pipeline from Athlone was of concern to a small number of landowners, the general consensus was positive.