Darren Quinn, CEO of Silvermines Hydro with Deputy Alan Kelly at the launch of the Silvermines Hydro project in 2016
The announcement that the planned €650m hydro-electric station proposed for Silvermines is to go to planning in the first quarter of 2022 has been welcomed by local TD Alan Kelly.
Deputy Kelly was Minister for the Environment when he helped launch the initiative - Ireland's largest sustainable energy project - back in 2016.
The project, which is backed by institutional and private investors, is very much on course for its 2023 planning application, according to its CEO Darren Quinn, and still on target for 2028 commissioning.
Deputy Kelly said that he had been supporting the project from the outset and pushing it because he had always seen it as absolutely necessary for Ireland’s future power needs.
“The reality facing us as a country now is that this project is essential. We are facing power shortages in Ireland if we don’t plan ahead. I’ve raised this in the Dail multiple times recently and the Taoiseach couldn’t give a guarantee that the lights would stay on,” he said.
Deputy Kelly said that the pump storage technology planned for the Silvermines would give us latency and provided a battery type of storage to help with our energy demand by generating 360 megawatts of electricity.
“We need to get this built and we need many other projects like this too that will reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and use our natural environment to serve our energy needs,” said Deputy Kelly.
He added that it was also a great project for the Silvermines and will help clean up the old mining area as well as create other environmental, commercial and tourism benefits.
Silvermines Hydro, which is located just outside Silvermines village in north Tipperary, will generate electricity from a storage-based technology.
Water from a higher elevation reservoir will be released to a lower reservoir, flowing through giant turbines and generating electricity at peak demand in the process.
The water is pumped from a lower reservoir to the higher reservoir at night or during low electricity demand periods.
The lower reservoir already exists at the site by way of an open-cast mine flooded to a depth of some 70m at the foot of the Silvermines Mountains.
A cost-benefit analysis for the project has demonstrated significant societal benefits to Tipperary and Ireland.
The project has the capacity to generate electricity to power 200,000 homes, but more importantly it provides a proven, secure and clean alternative to using fossil fuels, such as coal and gas in securing Ireland’s energy future over the next 20 to 30 years.
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