Kilroot to become gas-fired power station

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The power station has been owned by the Czech company EPUKI since last year

Kilroot power station is to be converted from coal-fired to gas-fired after it was awarded a contract in the latest energy market auction.

The move should guarantee the future of the County Antrim power station, which had been uncertain in recent years.

Without conversion, Kilroot was facing closure by 2024 as the coal-burning technology would not meet environmental standards.

The power station has been owned by the Czech company EPUKI since last year.

A spokesperson for the company said: “We are delighted that all units have been successful in the most recent auction meaning that new, flexible, low carbon gas generation can be developed on the Kilroot site.

”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.”

‘Midterm role’

In 2018, Kilroot lost out in a capacity auction process to supply the all-island Single Electricity Market (SEM).

It looked to be facing immediate closure but got a reprieve after an agreement was hammered out between then-owners AES, the Utility Regulator and the operator of the grid, SONI.

AES then sold all its Northern Ireland power assets to EPUKI.

EPUKI is ultimately controlled by the billionaire Daniel Kretínský who owns energy assets across Europe, including four power stations in England.

In 2017 Mr Kretínský explained the company’s strategy in an interview with the Financial Times.

He said EPH was interested in buying plants “at a meaningful price” that would continue to play at least a “midterm role”.

He added that “for the next at least 10, probably 20 years”, European countries will still rely on fossil fuel generation as well as renewable energy sources.

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