An energy storage project in Northern Ireland which will use compressed air has received an additional €8.3 million in funding from the EU. The site location is near the town of Larne on the Islandmagee peninsula, and the project developer is Gaelectric. (Larne is a port town with a population of about 32,000.)
Based on this extra funding amount, one might not expect the storage capability to be that great, but reportedly it will be 330 MW of generation capacity for a duration of six to eight hours, which might be enough to provide electricity for about 200,000 homes. For the energy storage, compressed air will be placed in engineered caverns about 1.5 kilometers below ground level.
“Northern Ireland and Larne will be the vanguards for safe, flexible and technologically advanced energy storage. With CAES, Northern Ireland will once again consolidate its position as a leading international exponent of engineering innovation and excellence,” Gaelectric employee Keith McGrane explained.
This simple explainer video provides an effective, basic overview of the technology, but is not about this specific project.
At about 6:14 in this video, a Gaelectric employee talks about the Larne project in Northern Ireland. In it, he says the storage capacity is 8-11 hours, though the video is dated 2013, so that figure might be out of date.
In July of 2015, the project received €6.5m in EU funding for design and front end engineering. The latest EU funding round is for drilling, design, and commercial structure studies.
The project is intended to be used for renewables integration and large-scale storage for the local grid. Northern Ireland has about 642 MW of installed wind power capacity, according to the Irish Wind Energy Association.
The Larne project is one of nine which was received recommendations for financing under the Connecting Europe Facility, “CEF is engineered to address both groups of factors behind the investment gap in the energy sector. Financial instruments, by bringing in new classes of investors and mitigating certain risks, will help project promoters to access the necessary financing for their projects.”
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