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    UK's Kilroot Power Plant to Switch to Gas (Update)


The coal plant in Northern Ireland would have faced closure in 2024.

by: Joseph Murphy, William Powell

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UK's Kilroot Power Plant to Switch to Gas (Update)

(Adds details from statement May 7)

The Kilroot power plant in Northern Ireland is due to be converted from coal to gas with the installation of a "more than 300-MW" gas-fired unit, after securing a 10-year generation contract in the latest energy market auction, its Czech operator EPUKI said on May 6.

Without securing the contract, the 701-MW plant in County Antrim would have faced closure in 2024 as its coal-burning units were not up to new environmental standards.

"We are delighted that all units have been successful in the most recent T-4 auction meaning that new, flexible, low carbon gas generation can be developed at the Kilroot site," EPUKI said. "This will ensure the transition towards low carbon generation as well as protecting security and stability of supply for Northern Ireland through the continuation of indigenous generation."

EPUKI's 708-MW Ballylumford gas-fired plant in Northern Ireland also secured a contract in the T-4 capacity auction for the single electricity market. The firm, whose parent company is Czech energy group EPH, acquired both stations last year from New York-listed AES Corp.

EPH, which owns numerous coal-fired plant in mainland Europe, said that since buying one of the UK's biggest coal-fired power stations Eggborough, five years ago, it is now considering replacing it with a modern gas-fired station. It has also converted the Lynemouth power station from coal to biomass combustion.

"By decommissioning a coal-fired unit in the Kilroot power station and its replacement with a gas-fired one, we will complete the withdrawal from coal in the British Islands," it said. The company would "rely on a combination of renewable sources and modern low-emission gas assets which are capable of flexible coverage of fluctuations in electricity demand."