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ESB plans first windfarm for North

The ESB is expanding its green energy portfolio, with plans to build its first windfarm in the North at a cost of €40 million.

ESB International (ESBI) will start construction on the development on farmland at Crockagarran near Sixmilecross, Co Tyrone, within months. Planning permission and grid connection have been secured for the windfarm, which will supply 18megawatts of electricity from six large wind-turbine generators.

By 2010, it aims to be generating enough electricity to power 10,500 homes. Michael Mc Nicholas, executive director of ESBI, said the project was a ‘‘significant investment in wind technology’’, reflecting the ESB’s move to invest in renewable energy.

‘‘The development is commensurate with the renewable energy objectives set out in ESB’s recently announced €22 billion investment plan, €11 billion of which will be directed at renewables.”

There have also been increased links between the Republic and the North since the introduction of the single electricity market. ESB already owns and operates the Coolkeeragh power station, a 400-megawatt natural gas combined cycle facility near Derry.

The company’s retail business, ESB Independent Energy (ESBIE), which has operated in the North since 2000, sells the generation output from the Coolkeeragh plant to its 1,300 large industrial customers in the North.

Meanwhile, a new tidal generator development at Strangford Lough will shortly begin commercially generating electricity. ESB has invested in the Seagen tidal turbine, and ESBIE will sell the output of the generator to its customers.

ESB has just renewed a five-year contract with Northern Ireland Energy Holdings for the provision of operations and maintenance services on the 500megawattMoyle interconnector, which links the electricity grids of the North and Scotland through undersea cables.

By Niamh Connolly, Political Reporter

Sunday Business Post

15 June 2008