Friday, February 24, 2023

By Keith Bourke

Ambitious proposals for a multi-million North Mayo energy project are to be decided upon by Mayo County Council.

Constant Energy Ltd has submitted a planning application to the local authority for an open-cycle gas turbine peaking plant. It is proposed to locate the plant at Croaghaun West and Srahnkilly, Bellacorick. The site covers 4.35 hectares at an abandoned farmstead almost two kilometres from Bellacorick village. The permission sought is for a period of 25 years.

The proposed development will consist of a 114-megawatt gas-fired peaking power plant, which will be capable of running on a mix of natural gas and hydrogen.

It is envisaged that the electrical connection to the grid for the project will be via a 110kv cable from a substation on the site to the existing Bellacorick 110kv substation.

There are also plans for an underground gas pipeline delivering natural gas to a gas injection compound.

Constant Energy Ltd previously received approval for a 200-megawatt natural gas-fired peaking power plant at the location.

The proposed peaking plant will consist of two open-cycle gas turbines, with a total installed capacity of up to 114mw electric. They will be supplied with natural gas from a spur off the gas transmission network. They can also operate using a blend of hydrogen, which can be supplied from a neighbouring hydrogen plant, currently under consideration by Mayo County Council.

The hydrogen plant development will consist of a single-storey process building, 16 fin fan coolers, a hydrogen storage area of 4,650 sq m, and a gas-injection compound. Also included in the proposals are substation buildings, water and fire storage tanks, a pump house, road access, a replacement bridge, and associated grid-connection works.

Natural gas would be the primary fuel source for the peaking plant with the option of using hydrogen from the proposed adjoining plant.

Subject to planning permission, construction would start next year, with the plant fully operational by 2026.

Bellacorick was previously home to a peat-fuelled electricity power plant that was developed in the 1950s in a partnership between Bord na Móna and the ESB. Opened in 1961, the power plant was a valuable employer in the north Mayo and Erris areas before it was decommissioned in 2005.

Bellacorick’s Power Station’s landmark chimney was exploded to the ground in 2005. Picture: Henry Wills, Western People.

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