ESB submitted an application to An Bord Pleanála in 2018 seeking planning permission to transition West Offaly Power from peat to biomass, a renewable fuel, over a number of years starting in 2020. This planning application was rejected by An Bord Pleanála in July 2019. ESB undertook a review of the options for both West Offaly Power and Lough Ree Power stations post 2020 in the context of the requirements of the single electricity market (SEM). Having considered the key planning, environmental and commercial issues associated with peat and biomass, there was no viable business model beyond 2020.
Both stations closed at the end of December 2020.
Following the closure of both the Midland stations in December 2020, a review of options for redevelopment of both sites post decommissioning was carried out and presented to the Just Transition working group.
Based on the recommendations and conclusions drawn it was decided to seek planning consents for both the remediation and redevelopment works at both sites, which would involve the construction of electrical grid system support technology hubs that can facilitate greater levels of renewable energy generation on the grid in line with ESB’s Brighter Future Strategy. These technologies, which will include energy storage through the use of batteries, will be offered to the grid operator through upcoming auctions for system services. Using battery-stored energy is likely to become more widespread in the future as it allows peaks in demand to be met with lower carbon emissions. This integrated approach to decommissioning and redevelopment offers many advantages across the various engineering disciplines while planning both project aspects.
For information, we issued a press release in June on our plans for renewable energy centres at the sites here.