Irish Government eyes off SSE Thermal’s Tarbert power station for emergency generation

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By Louis Allen - 

SSE Thermal (LSE: SSE) reported the Irish Government is eyeing off its Tarbert power plant as a potential site for the nation’s emergency generation in the near future, if required.

The thermal power generation company, which is a subsidiary of SSE, confirmed the news in a recent announcement – indicating it has been in talks with the Irish Government for some time.

“As a responsible business, we want to support the government and will continue to engage with it in the coming weeks,” it said.

SSE noted the plans would only be “a short-term and temporary measure”, and wouldn’t impact the company’s 2030 targets for decarbonisation.

SSE managing director Catherine Raw said the company understands the government’s needs, but remains focused on its decarbonisation efforts.

“We fully understand the importance of security of supply and will continue to work constructively with the government as it seeks to develop this Emergency Generation project,” she said.

“At the same time, we are focused on bringing forward low-carbon flexible generation projects to enable Ireland’s transition to net zero.”

European nations have been scrambling to secure future power supplies after Russian imports were cut as a result of the war with Ukraine.

Tarbert power plant

Located in County Kerry, Ireland, SSE’s Tarbert power plant is a 630MW station, made up of four oil-fired turbines, which was set up to respond to times of rising energy demand.

With that being said, EU emissions regulations require the station to close by the end of 2023.

SSE’s capacity from the plant is behind targets due to a fire caused last month. The company confirmed half of the generation capacity was lost in the incident and will not be restored in time to meet peak winter demand.

The fire cost the company a loss of 241MW of generation capacity and electricity, while the power station was fully operational again until 15th October.

European energy supply issues

Europe’s dependence on Russian energy imports was made clear after supplies from the country were severed as result of sanctions.

Before Russia invaded the Ukraine and subsequent sanctions, its natural gas accounted for 40% of Europe’s consumption.

As a result of reduced Russian supplies, European gas and power prices are constantly surging, stoking inflation, affecting industrial activity and resulting in record-high bills for consumers in anticipation of the upcoming winter period.

Despite having high levels of gas storage, the continent still faces the potential risks of power shortages, blackouts and energy rationing.

Experts believe European nations could end up competing with Asia for scarce and expensive liquid gas which comes by ship.

European leaders have suggested the cutback in Russian gas is energy blackmail aimed at pressuring governments over their support for Ukraine and sanctions against Russia’s capital.

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