Thursday, 29 June 1995
Dáil Éireann Debate
119. Mr. N. Ahern asked the Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications if he will give details of the proposed new turf-burning electricity generating station; the level of Government or EU funds available; the efficiency level of production in mega watts per man per hour which it would be expected to reach; and the way in which this could compare with modern production levels with other fuels, namely natural gas, nuclear, coal, oil and water. [12111/95]
Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications (Mr. Lowry): The proposed peat-fired generating station to be located in the East Midlands will be designed to provide 120 MW of generating capacity. Studies undertaken on behalf of Bord na Móna show that the station would have: — a capital cost, including contingency of £90 million (1993 prices) — annual operating costs of £5.5 million (1993 prices) — consume 1 million tonnes of peat per annum — employ 64 on a permanent basis and 20 to 25 on a contract basis — support 250 permanent and 250 seasonal jobs in peat extraction — employ 450 at peak during construction — a direct income impact of £19 million during construction and £8 million per annum during operations.
The latest “state of the art” technology will be used in the operation of the new station. The net conversion efficiency envisaged is 36.7 per cent compared to around 25 per cent in the existing older peat fired stations.
The Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications will be asking the Government in the near future for approval of the necessary arrangements for a competition on the open market for the construction, ownership and operation of the new peat-fired electricity generating station.
A memorandum of understanding with the EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, signed on 12 April 1995, sets out the basis for the provision of EU Structural Fund assistance of £21 million towards the new peat station for the East Midlands. The balance of the  funds required will be a matter for the successful bidder.
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With the EU grant of £21 million, the Bord na Móna studies calculated that the new station will be able to supply electricity at a tariff of 3.67 p/unit. This compares with a tariff of approximately 3.1 stg/unit from a “stand alone” gas fired power station of 225 MW constructed in the UK and to a figure ranging from 4.3p to 8p from other ESB peat burning stations.
The socio-economic cost benefit analysis completed by an international firm of consultants put the additional cost of generating electricity from the new peat-fired station, over the life of the station, at £24.5 million above the best alternative (i.e. use of gas). This is outweighed, however, by the wider socio-economic benefits, estimated at £36.1 million, leaving a net overall benefit of £11.6 million to the Irish economy.
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