An Taoiseach cuts the ribbon at SSE’s 464MW Great Island Power Plant

  • SSE’s €350m Great Island CCGT will power over half a million Irish homes
  • €43m gas pipeline investment brings gas to the South East for the first time
  • More than 40 staff from Wexford and surrounding areas will operate the new plant
  • Great Island is one of Ireland’s most efficient power plants

An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD, today joined SSE staff and guests at the opening of Ireland’s newest and one of its most efficient power plants, the 464MW Great Island Clean Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT) in County Wexford. 

Developed by SSE, Ireland’s second largest energy utility, Great Island represents an investment of more than €350m and has the capacity to power more than half a million homes on the Irish grid.

As part of the project, SSE invested €43m in completing a 41km industrial-grade gas pipeline from Bawnlusk, Co. Kilkenny. Developed in partnership with Gas Networks Ireland, this strategic asset has brought gas to the South East for the first time.

In addition to the 41km pipeline, a 29km natural gas pipeline connecting Great Island to Wexford town has been approved by the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER), and gas network operator Gaslink says it expects natural gas to be available to large customers in Wexford by July 2016.

The Great Island CCGT project was acquired by SSE in October 2012 from Endesa Ireland in the very early stages of construction – that acquisition represented an investment by SSE of half a billion euro into the future of Irish energy.

The culmination of commissioning and construction marks the end of what has been a three year project development journey. During this period, over 1,200 contractors were employed on-site, around 80% of whom were local to Co. Wexford and the South East. Around 3 million working hours were expended by SSE’s project team in the delivery of this world class asset.

The Great Island plant entered commercial operation on Friday 17 April when it began exporting energy to the All Island Single Electricity Market for the first time. SSE estimates that Great Island will save Irish energy customers in excess of €50m per year as one of Ireland’s most efficient power plants.

An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD, commented on the opening of Great Island CCGT:

"I am delighted to be in County Wexford this morning with the SSE Airtricity team to mark the official opening of the newest addition to Ireland’s national grid.  The substantial investment by SSE in this 464 Mega Watt generating station is a real vote of confidence in the economic future of Ireland.  Most importantly it will increase competition in the electricity generation sector.

“Energy drives our economy and, in order to ensure our economy remains resilient, we must continue to support cost efficient, energy efficient, climate friendly energy.  I am encouraged to see the ongoing investment and commitment of SSE to Ireland, which has seen the company invest more than €2 billion in the country since 2008.  

“The €350 million invested in the Great Island Power Plant by SSE is of great benefit to the people of Wexford, the South East region and the country as a whole, providing over 1,200 construction jobs and over 40 full time staff positions at the plant, bringing the total number of staff employed directly by SSE in Ireland to 820."

Alex White, Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, commented:

“Energy security is one of the key pillars of energy policy, and it is an important dimension of the EU Energy Union. Eliminating waste and the aggressive targeting of improved energy efficiency will be key to our transition to a sustainable energy future. This is one of the few elements of energy policy that is completely in our national control.  By bringing competition to the marketplace on the generation and supply side, SSE are part of the process of  putting downward pressure on prices and offering choice to the public and business community. This will undoubtedly contribute to both.”

Gregor Alexander, Lead Director for Ireland and Finance Director, SSE, commented:

“Today marks the end of what has been an exciting, and most importantly safe, three year project development journey. In mid-April our new CCGT power plant successfully began commercially generating energy for export to Ireland’s Single Electricity Market, concluding more than two years of construction followed by months of commissioning.

“I’m proud to say that the Great Island project has been successfully delivered on budget and to the highest safety and environmental standards in line with SSE’s core values of Safety, Excellence and Teamwork.

“At SSE we’re proud of the difference we are making to the future of Ireland’s energy supply. The completion of Great Island CCGT brings to over €2 billion the total investment made by SSE in Ireland since 2008 – that investment is creating jobs, sustaining employment, driving competition and greening our economy.”

The commissioning of the new CCGT plant coincides with the retirement of the existing 240MW heavy fuel oil power plant which was first commissioned at Great Island almost 50 years ago in 1967. SSE’s investment in the new clean gas power plant at Great Island displaces oil with gas, further improving carbon intensity and underpinning SSE Airtricity’s heritage as a greener energy provider.