By DARA BUTTERFIELD
Gaelectric’s innovative compressed air energy storage (CAES) project near Larne in County Antrim, Northern Ireland has been secured up to €6.47 million of European Union funding.
The project – which has been included as a Project of Common Interest (PCI) under the EU programme to promote transboundary energy infrastructure – will store energy in the form of compressed air in especially engineered caverns created within geological salt deposits for this purpose.
Salt deposits suitable for compressed air energy storage are unique to the east Antrim coast on the island of Ireland and a few other locations in the United Kingdom and on the European mainland. This EU financing will be applied in meeting the costs of environmental impact assessment and planning activities, as well as front end engineering design for the Project.
In its opinion, the CEF Co-ordinating Committee states: “The PCI (Project) would contribute to market integration, renewable energy input and system security in both Ireland and the UK (Northern Ireland)…The project is technologically innovative and has the potential to be replicated in other parts of the EU with suitable geological conditions.”
Brendan McGrath, CEO, Gaelectric, commented: “The opinion and recommendation from the CEF Co-ordinating Committee is a further endorsement of the Larne CAES Project. It follows its designation as a Project of Common Interest in 2013 and the growing recognition among policy makers and energy stakeholders of the vital role that large scale energy storage must play in integrating increasing amounts of renewable energy within modern power systems.
“The Larne CAES Project is the only storage PCI in the United Kingdom and the only CAES PCI in Europe. Larne and Northern Ireland will become the blueprint for CAES storage and the integration of renewable energy sources across the rest of the United Kingdom and Europe.”
The Larne CAES Project is designed to store energy in the form of compressed air and to release this energy to transmission system operators generating up to 330 MW for periods of up to 6 hours duration.
Meanwhile, Gaelectric has appointed Dr. Chuan Zhang as Chief Technology Officer. Dr. Zhang, who is relocating from Glasgow, is a former Chief Engineer of Generation at Airtricity. His most recent role was as Crown Estate programme manager for transmission and energy storage.
And Geraldine Kelly, former managing director of the Carbon Solutions Business division of Ireland’s Electricity Supply Board has been appointed as a non-executive director at Gaelectric.