ESB seeking backers for 1600 MW UK gas-fired power plant

The ESB is planning a $1bn (€1bn) power plant in the UK and seeking an equity partner to help build the huge 1,600 megawatt facility.

The plant earmarked for Knottingley in Yorkshire would be one of Britain’s biggest, if it goes ahead. The company gas already secured planning permission on the 50-acre site.
The Irish Independent reports that investment bank Nomura has been hired by the ESB to find a partner for the new gas-fired power station development, code-named Project Knight Rider.

Speaking to the Irish Independent earlier this month, group finance director Pat Fenlon said it would be the end of the year at the earliest before a decision would be made about when the project will actually proceed as the UK government doesn’t hold its next annual capacity auction until the end of this year.

à‚ Those auctions are held to ensure that the UK has adequate power supplies during winter periods, when demand peaks.

The ESB has told potential investors that the UK will need new gas-fired power stations to take up the slack as about 20 GW of coal-fired and nuclear-powered electricity generation is shut down by 2025.

It has also told likely backers that the UK’s electricity reserve margin fell from about 18pc in 2011 to just 0.1pc during the winter that has just ended, before the use of emergency supplementary balancing reserves.

According to industry publication ‘SparkSpread’, which first reported that the ESB is now seeking an equity partner for Knottingley, the utility is also in talks with General Electric for the supply of two 800-MW turbines for the project.

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