Reshaping the local energy market

It’s been another exceptionally busy year for Northern Ireland-based Evermore Energy, following the submission of its planning application in April 2017 for a state-of-the-art 480MW gas fired power station in Belfast Harbour estate.

With a planning decision expected to be announced in early 2018, if approved the £280 million project will re-shape the electricity generation market in Northern Ireland. The project will be delivered through a special purpose vehicle called Belfast Power Limited (BPL).

When operational in 2020, the Siemens-designed power station will generate low-carbon electricity for over 500,000 homes and businesses across Northern Ireland.

Evermore Energy Director, Ciaran Devine says the project will provide both “secure and highly efficient” electricity supply.

He explains: “There has been a huge shift in electricity generation across the UK and Ireland in recent years. It’s well known that in addition to supporting renewables, the UK government wants to phase out all coal fired power stations by 2025.

“This has created a potential generation shortfall risk for Northern Ireland, so our power station is scheduled to become operational as older coal-fired generating stations are being decommissioned.

“Our key focus with Belfast Power is to generate electricity in a way that is sustainable for future generations. SONI (System Operator for Northern Ireland) has done great work in facilitating a high level of wind energy and renewables generally on the system. This has had a hugely positive impact on our efforts to meet challenging renewable energy targets in Northern Ireland.

“To support that effort, there remains a need for further indigenous generation here and when delivered the Belfast Power Station will lead to a further reduction in CO2 emissions, which will significantly enhance the region’s low-carbon credentials.

“When looking at the type of energy generation and level of supply needed in Northern Ireland, this power station will be a perfect fit for what the electricity market needs going forward.

“In economic terms, it will provide a major boost for Belfast and the surrounding area and will be one of the largest private investments ever undertaken in Northern Ireland. The project will create 700 jobs during construction and 50 highly skilled full-time posts when it becomes operational.”

Ciaran adds: “As a local company, we are very proud to be bringing this level of investment to Northern Ireland and using the latest technology to serve the needs of the electricity market and the economy.”

Ciaran and his brother Stephen Devine founded Evermore Energy in 2009 with a view to initiating, developing and financing low-carbon strategic infrastructure projects throughout Ireland, the UK and Europe.

Most recently they successfully developed the £83 million Lisahally Combined Heat and Power Plant in Derry – Northern Ireland’s largest renewable energy power station. As a result, they know first-hand what it takes to deliver viable, forward-thinking infrastructure in the local electricity market.

“The Lisahally Power Plant has been a great success and we’re delighted to have overseen major investment and job creation close to where we grew up. The plant is fully operational and provides green energy to almost 30,000 people in the North West region,” explains Stephen Devine.

“Our first 12 months of full operation has generated almost £17 million of turnover for the business and we’re delighted that we have the highest availability of any Biomass plant in Europe.”

Stephen is keen to stress the depth of experience and technology expertise within the project team also: “In terms of the Belfast Power Station project, we have partnered with world-renowned Siemens Energy to design and operate the plant. With our local knowledge and successful track record in Northern Ireland, coupled with Siemens’ expertise as market-leading engineers, we have an extremely strong team in place to deliver the project.

“A key consideration for us in the early stages of bringing together the Belfast Power Station project was identifying a suitable site in a strategic location. This led to us working closely with Belfast Harbour to secure a site in the Harbour Estate near Bombardier’s CSeries facility.

“We have carried out extensive consultation on the project and have engaged with the planning team in the Department for Infrastructure who have been excellent in their approach so far.

“We have also been working steadily over the past 12 months with our funders, the Utility Regulator, SONI, NIE Networks and Mutual Energy to ensure that we can deliver the project within the necessary timeframe.

“All the feedback we have received to date has been very positive and we hope to keep that momentum up right through to decision and ultimately the construction and operation of the plant.”
Ciaran believes that with the delivery of the Belfast Power Station in 2020, Northern Ireland is on the cusp of finally securing the world-class electricity generation supply it needs. In addition, he points out: “If SONI’s proposed North South Interconnector is also delivered in the next few years it will build on the current benefits generated by the all-island electricity market. Ultimately, the delivery of modern infrastructure will help the market work in the best interest of consumers everywhere, while helping us transition to a more sustainable, low-carbon future.”

Going forward Evermore plans to look at other energy projects and is hoping to make further announcements in 2018.

“When Ciaran and I established Evermore, we set out with the goals of revolutionising sustainable energy generation in Northern Ireland, while also attracting major investment across the region.” says Stephen.

“The success of the Lisahally Combined Heat and Power Plant and the progress to date on the Belfast Power Station has certainly been a good start. We are a young, dynamic company with great people and big ideas, so from our point of view this is just the beginning.”

More information about the proposed Belfast Power Station can be found online at www.belfastpower.com.

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