A planned £300m green energy facility in Islandmagee has the potential to help transform Northern Ireland’s economy, it has been claimed.
Dublin-based renewable energy company Gaelectric plan to build a compressed air energy storage (CAES) facility – the first of its kind in the UK and only the third such project anywhere in the world.
And international business advisory group, FTI Consulting, has hailed the pioneering scheme as a “unique opportunity” for the province.
A new report by the consultancy group, entitled “Energy Storage – The Missing Link” – claims the project would be an “infrastructural asset for Europe, providing a blueprint for the expansion of CAES technology to other locations and having the potential to help transform the economy of Northern Ireland to become a more competitive business and investment location”.
CAES facilities store excess energy from the grid by converting it to compressed air, which is then stored in caverns created in salt layers deep underground.
From there, it can be released through an electricity generator for later use.
Gaelectric estimates the construction phase of the project will boost economic activity in NI by £161m (£75m in direct spending and a further £86m through supply-chain and household spending).
Meanwhile, the firm said the scheme would create 532 full-time jobs (200 directly attributable to the project and 332 indirectly), as well as a further 43 full time roles when the project is up and running (15 working within the new facility and 28 in other sectors).
Brendan McGrath, Gaelectric Group CEO, said: “This project will provide bulk, grid-level storage that is responsive, safe, effective and supports the integration of Northern Ireland’s renewable energy resource.”
“The salt deposits in East Antrim have unique potential on the island of Ireland for development of storage caverns suitable for CAES. ”
Gaelectric is expected to submit its planning application for the project later this year.