John Stewart MLA Calls for Kilroot Coal-Powered Power Station to be Kept Open During the Coming Winter

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John Stewart MLA Calls for Kilroot Coal-Powered Power Station to be Kept Open During the Coming Winter

Ulster Unionist Infrastructure spokesperson John Stewart MLA has emphasised the importance of keeping the Kilroot coal-powered power station open for electricity generation over the winter to avoid power cuts. This follows the news that the gas turbines to replace coal will not be commissioned on time.

Mr Stewart said, “It is very disappointing that the gas turbines that are planned to replace the coal-fired generating units at Kilroot are not ready to be commissioned. This news is not only concerning for the workforce at Kilroot but raises the key question for Northern Ireland PLC as to whether we should keep our key coal-powered power station at Kilroot online throughout the incoming winter period.

“The government’s climate change policy is to phase out coal-powered electricity generation by 2025; however, we are faced with a major challenge looking forward to this incoming winter. 

“I believe that the government should, as a matter of urgency, reach an agreement with Kilroot Energy Park to delay the decommissioning of their coal-powered power plant until the spring of 2024 or until the new gas plant goes live. This will deliver a robust standby arrangement that will help support energy security by ensuring they are available as the market requires.

“The energy generated by this will be for dispatch by SONI within the ISEM. Clearly, such an arrangement is out with current contractual obligations, and it would be for SONI to strike a deal that benefits consumers.

“Without this contingency, Northern Ireland could experience insufficient electricity supply this winter.

“Countries across Europe are trying to cope with disruptions to gas flows from Russia, which came to a complete halt following the invasion of Ukraine.

“Europe depended on Russia for around 40% of its gas, which means that they have had to rely on other sources of energy income, which has led to a lot of volatility in the energy market. Keeping our coal power plant on over the winter will help secure energy for Northern Ireland and could help any fluctuations in the energy market over this period.

“The status of the Kilroot plant be kept constantly under review until we see a stabilisation of the energy crisis.”